tv 2017 Southern Festival of Books CSPAN October 15, 2017 12:59pm-5:01pm EDT
>> you have been watching "after words," booktv's interview program. charles sykes was interviewed by rita talkshow host tammy bruce. she appeared on booktv's in-depth program back in 2006 and you can watch that anytime @booktv.org. simply type tammy bruce in the search bar. >> [inaudible conversations] >> welcome back to nashville. it's day number two a booktv's live coverage of the southern festival of books. today's authors include jared yates sexton on the 2016 presidential election. liza mundy, and national book award finalist patricia bell scott. for a complete schedule a visit booktv.org or follow along on our social media sites. we are on facebook, twitter and
instagram @booktv is our handle. we're kicking off today with an author discussion on eleanor roosevelt with emily wilson and national book award finalist patricia bell scott. this is booktv on c-span2. it's live coverage of the southern festival of books. [inaudible conversations] .. since this session is being taped live, if you please use the microphone if we have time for questions at the end of the
session, the microphone is over there, we will need the to end the session at 12:50. after that we will head to the book and author signing area where you will have an opportunity to meet the authors and have them sign your books. we cannot linger in this room. thank you for your assistance. professor of women studies at the university of georgia. she is a former contributor to miss magazine and cofounder to have national women study's association. her most recent book, the fire brand and the first lady, portrait of friendship, paulie murray, ellen nor roosevelt and struggle for social justice when the lilian smith book award and was named best adult nonfiction book of the year by the american library association. it was also a finalist and long
listed for national book award. emily wilson resides in north carolina. as student at the women's college in greensborouhg she pursued campus politics with vigor. she has been a writer, lecturer, organizer and advocate. her book, the three graces of val kill, eleanor roosevelt and place they made their own has received praise of welcome edition to book and memoirs of the roosevelt family. each author will read and discuss book for a short time. at the end, we hope we will have time to open the floor to your questions. please join me in welcoming patricia bell scott and emily
wilson. [applause] >> good afternoon. my book is the story of a decade-long friendship between eleanor roosevelt and paulie murray and i'm sure that almost everyone one in room knows a lot about eleanor roosevelt but but i thought it was -- it would be helpful who paulie murray was. historians say, many american historians say that when the history of the human rights movement for the 20th century is written, one of the people who will stand center stage in that story is paulie murray, whether the issue is labor rights, women's rights or civil rights, paulie murray was there. she's only begun to receive recognition for her
contributions to the nation and some of the example of her -- of the work has to do with civil right, with women's rights and with labor and i want to just briefly say a little bit about some of them. for example, third good marshal legal team relied on legal team in crafting the brief for brown decision. you take a look at the essay and you look at the brown case, the brief, what you would recognize that she's clearly co-architect of the brief. she planted the seeds for the women's rights project which blossomed under the leader of colombia university law professor ruth bader ginsburg
who became justice ruth bader ginsburg and under her leadership the women's rights project blossom and ruth bader ginsburg credits paulie murray as intellectual mentor. with the work she did in the church in issues on gender equality, she help today pave the way for two prominent bishops in the episcapal church harris who recently stepped down and elizabeth who is now in new york. first african american female bishop, female ordain. first of all, in durham, north carolina, her childhood home has been named a national historic
landmark. if you go to durham, you can go and see her childhood home. also just this past weekend, this past friday, her ama motto, yale university dedicated the paulie murray college. it's a residential college, first college named after an african american, after a women and someone identified as lgbtq. let me say a little bit about what i had hoped to do with this book. i had several goals in mind when i decide today write this book. i wanted to look at how it is that a woman who was the granddaughter of a mixed race slave and a women whose ancestry entitled to membership in the
daughters of the american revolution came together in a decade's long friendship. i wanted to know what drew them together. i was very interested in what kept them together, how did they sustain this friendship. i wanted to know how did the friendship change over time, what were the dynamics of the friendship. i wanted to know what needs did the friendship satisfy in the two of them and what significance did it have for -- for the nation. and there were several things -- several surprising facts that i learned along the way. despite the difference in family origin, and the fact that paulie murray was 26 year's younger than eleanor roosevelt had several things in common, they shared the name anna which neither preferred or used, they both lost their parents as children, so they were raised by
elderly kin, they were highly sensitive and had abiding compassion for the helpless, they -- they had a need for acceptance, they both were particularly devout in terms of their faith, they were life-long episcopelians, readers and loved poetry and they loved to write, they were unpretentious, they both suffered ridicule for physical appearance. paulie for boyish physique and eleanor roosevelt for teeth. they rarely slept because they had boundless energy, they would wear out their friends, but they also were not immune to low spirits. paulie had mood swings until age 43 she was diagnosed with a
thyroid disorder which on thed for some of her low spells and eleanor roosevelt manifested depression like symptoms when she felt that she was unappreciated or when she felt that she had failed someone. they both thought tendency toward shininess, if they know anything about paulie and eleanor they were shy and fought against that town outspoken. they both loved physical activity, they loved to walk, they loved being outdoors, they loved -- they loved, they meted many and loved to have the company of cherished friends and the friends included their dogs. eleanor had favorites, scottish terriers and paulie had a soft spot for large breeds who were often strays.
in the early days of their friendship, what we see or what i found was that it was characterized by tension, paulie was this impatient young upstart, erratical, far to the left of eleanor who really wanted dramatic change and she wanted change soon and eleanor on the other hand who was compassionate and who did not like many of the challenges paulie faced as a young brilliant african-american female wanted change but also felt that it was really important to work within the system. and i want to read just a brief excerpt from an episode involving an incident in washington, d.c. where blacks were barred from seeing a play at the keith theater and eleanor roosevelt was affiliated with the group that put on the -- sponsored this event but she had
a really hard time going because it involved protestors who were outside who were upset about the fact that blacks were barred and so she writes about it in her column, my day, and paulie writes her back in response to what she says. so let me just read this passage to you. this film was called a. lincoln in illinois, it was a premier and the film adaptation of a pulitzer prize winning play by robert, it was put on the newspaper women's club which eleanor roosevelt was a member. when she arrived there was a line of protestors which the first lady and everyone had to pass to enter the theater and it marred the event for washington society. eleanor roosevelt loved the film as much as she loved the play.
portrayal of lincoln on the screen and the stage never failed to move her. having to walk by the protestors made the first lady uneasy and she discontinued her feelings with readers the next day in her my day column. she wrote, who were barred from all district of colombia theaters except their own. it may not have been quite fair wise to pick this particular show because the house had been taken over by an organization for the charity and organization had the right to sale this ticket to whomever it wished. though this was not a strike whether question of unfair labor conditions was involved, it was -- somehow or another it feels unjust. now, eleanor roosevelt may not have known that the prohibition on black patrons was not the only insult that angered
protestors. the other had to do with lincoln-look alike contest to boost attendance, when the judges had selected the photograph of tomas, tall, lengthy fair skinned african american postal worker they refuse today acknowledge him at the premier as plan. for murray, the first lady's attendance at event that honored lincoln and discriminated against blacks was contradiction by the prospects that eleanor roosevelt did not understand how humiliating the situation was. murray stood for over a week and then she shot off a response. dear mrs. roosevelt i was disappointed that you crossed a picked line, the continued day-to-day embarrassment of a
group is a greater hardship than the momentary embarrassment of the individuals who attended the keith theater performance of abe lincoln in illinois. your article even though it reflected some indecision was a most effective result of the demonstration. the rights of minority groups are equally important, there can be in compromise on the principles of quality. now, the next excerpt, the last excerpt i want to read, i chose for three reasons, first of all, it shows how this relationship changes. so this -- the piece i just read was from 1940, i'm going to read an excerpt about an incident in 1954 where they have reached the point where paulie is spending weekend at val kill and i also
chose this because i thought about today's date, this weekend, october 15th, is the anniversary of hurricane hazel which up until recently was considered one of the worst hurricanes we had ever have to come up the east coast. i chose it also because it's the anniversary of this weekend that she spent at val kill and this is the weekend brought about paulie's need to get away and desired to give her respite. she had just had thyroid surgery. vision problems, loss of memory, pick a fight with everyone stage that lasted through the summer of 1954. side effects of the operation and her medications
along with the relative's death increased her anxiety, too disoriented to write murray longed to get away to a quiet place in the mountains. if it wouldn't be too much trouble she asked eleanor roosevelt, may i hibernate for a few days, the idea to look at nature and not typewriter, eleanor told murray that she could bring her 21-year-old niece bonnie, bonnie just graduated from catholic university and paulie we wanted to make a graduation gift. on friday october 15th, 1954 at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, paulie and bonnie met eleanor at her new york participant to the drive to park. the first reports of hurricane hazel had come the day before from haiti request curtain of rain had killed hundreds, made their way up the atlantic sea
board of the united states uprooting trees, toppling houses, breaking power lines and blowing debris, thousands in the carolinas were left homeless and expose today contaminated water and broken sewer lines. in virginia washed ashore in the james river, in the district of colombia the potomac overflow and century old pecan tree was destroyed n. delaware a woman was hurled to death. wind gusts were 100 miles per hour. brooklyn couple stepped on the live wire and perished, a 19-year-old vanished away. eleanor roosevelt seemed unconcerned about hazel's havoc
and the u.s. weather bureau's of hazardous conditions. she napped in the front seat while her driver sped along the parkways driving to outrun the storm. paulie and bonnie crouched together in the backseat. when they reached value -- val kill there was no electricity or water. before they could unpacked, hurry up, we have an engagement at barks arr college and we don't want to keep them waiting. eleanor has promised the students she would read to them from favorite books. barr college was an hour away under normal conditions yet she fully intended to keep her commitment. eleanor and her guests took off with driver navigating the car through small streams in and around fallen branches, at times
the wind and the rain made it difficult for them to see more than a few feet ahead. they found tree blocking the entrance so they abandoned the car all by foot. the students having assumed that eleanor roosevelt would not come in such a storm were surprised that she and her party arrived. she took a spot on the floor in front of burning fireplace with student and guests around her. she read excerpts from win any -- winnie the pooh. her reading so dazzled paulie that she concluded that the journey -- it was eleanor roosevelt
offering a practical suggestion. there's a swimming pool around the -- by john's house and nobody uses it this time of year, john was her son who lived on adjacent property. i just came back. i took my soup and towel with me, rubbed myself all over with the soup, looked up and down the road to see that nobody was coming and i went right into the pool and took my bath, if you hurry, you can do the same, just make sure that nobody is looking. paulie and her niece were incredulous. [laughter] >> too shame to admit how eleanor's proposal made them, paulie and bonnie put on robes and gathered soap and towels and
their hope of going unnoticed was dashed when eleanor's daughter-in-law anne came out and staired at them and they explained that they were following eleanor roosevelt's introduction whereupon anne led them to the pool and the family's large dog happily joined them. no soon had they dipped toes into the water then they spotted a delivery truck coming toward them, were relieve today find the lights and hot water restored. later over lunch, everyone chuckled at 7--year-old sally roosevelt tale of seeing her mother bathe in the swimming pool and anne account of confused bat robe strangers wondering through the backyard. paulie murray would never forget what a wonderful weekend it was. it is memory that paulie would call upon time and time again
when she was trying to summon courage in the face of uncertainty. thank you. [applause] >> the stories of paulie murray and eleanor roosevelt are just legendary and i would have driven all the way from north carolina to nashville, tennessee to hear pat read that one. i commend the people who have put together this program because the similarities are just amazing. pat has come here from her teaching where she has tired from the university of georgia where i almost went to college until i went off to school in north carolina and it was in north carolina that i met paulie murray. i had just met her, she had been the first who -- ordain black pt
and she was delightful and came back on many occasions and to be here today with the biographer of this great book about the friendship of i -- eleanor roosevelt as i introduced my book of friendship is wonderful and thank you for flying. she flies and i drive, so we have come here by different directions but to the same purp. i invite you to look at the title of the two books. this is pat's book, the first lady and i believe that it was the title that eleanor roosevelt called paulie when they had this fiery exchange of letters. my book is called the three graces, you couldn't ask for anything more different. the three graces and they were
eleanor, mary anne and nancy cook, they were named the three graces by franklin roosevelt when he urged the three friends to build a cottage on the banks of the val-kill criek on the east side of park exactly where pat is talking about that day when they swam in the swimming with this one difference. when they built the cottage, franklin signed a book to them for the three graces of the val-kill, it's wonderful to hear you say that paulie murray was a guest there but she was a guest in a house called the eleanor roosevelt historic site. how many of you have been there? the amazing thing, is it not, it's about the modesty of it, do you agree? people are so used to living
rich now that to see the first lady of the world, really, lived so simply, it was constructed at a furniture factory which three friends eleanor, mary annee, had built together when franklin roosevelt we wanted to provide work for poor people, made things with her hands and they built this in the factory and the friendship of these two women eleanor and these two women mary anne were like partners, was based on personal affection, but out of that grew work and work they did unlike the work that paulie and eleanor roosevelt did was not so much political as it was organizational and they built the furniture factory.
well after about a decade in which the women used the -- what we now call stone cottage as a weekend retreat, as paulie murray did to get away, after about a decade, eleanor is now first lady of a white house and everything has changed and has changed the friendship. now, the friendship helps paulie and eleanor because they have political power, but it hurts the friendship of mary and anne because they have come together along personal relations and eleanor moves out of stone cottage, a hundred feet into where paulie stayed with her niece and where you have been because eleanor has renovated the factory and however the
national park service is more open now to using stone cottage to show you how it all began. the reason that i was interested was i'm from georgia and i had heard all of my life and warm springs, how many have you been to warm strings, it's about a half day or less on first car to a place that franklin found relief and had hoped to find recovery which he didn't, but it was a wonderful place and i remember going as a child and i said, where is mrs. roosevelt because i lived with my grandmother and i was very much used to it being the house of a woman, where was mrs. roosevelt while fdr was in warm springs, she was at val-kill and they always knew where each other was doing and what they were doing and so for my part, i'm going to
read you the story that i wanted to tell, how did elizabeth, how did eleanor roosevelt get from here to there, how did this orphan child with the background that pat described so vividly shy and almost always shy and i thought paulie was shy, how did they get to be the friend and first lady and look at your own life, what were the turning points by which you came to your own voice and i thought that the turning point for eleanor was when she had a house of her own because up to that point she was living under the domination of mrs. sarah roosevelt, remember your first visit to spring wood and that was called the big cows, but she has found her
independence under the guidance of mary and anne in the cottage and pat is the story teller and as the scholar, you sure did justice to that story, i'm not so much a scholar as i'm a story teller and that's because, well, it's not much difference between chattanooga, tennessee and columbus, georgia. we both grew up on the stories and this is how my story began and i will read the first page and a half. it's the prologue and i'm quoting from sarah eleanor roosevelt and you probably saw the king burns documentary, so we know something about her. sarah eleanor roosevelt, let us imagine the hudson valley in late summer of 1924, so i'm a
different time period from pat's, in the roosevelt house called spring wood on a day that began like any other day, the fire was lit and the kitchen parks were heated and the heavy drapes were pulled back and the sunlight fell upon the old carpets, over here the sound of running feet broke open the silence, sarah eleanor roosevelt so mistress of the house since mr. james had died almost 25 years ago. she had been awake and she was listening and she opened her arms to receive the grandchildren in her bed. it's often said that mrs. roosevelt wasn't a great mother, it was hard to be the first lady and great mother but the women that you interviewed and i interviewed, her grandchildren said she was a great grandmother and she
dressed and called to her son franklin to remind him that breakfast was going to be served downstairs and when she passed, she knocked lightly. she listened. she moved on. she could smell the smoke left by franklin's friends who had stayed late. she sniffed off, that was not her husband's fine and she moved to the snuggery, you know that word? every women needs a snuggery, meet with service and that was something she shared with her husband james. she could still feel the presence in the house.
autumn was eleanor's favorite season. to the west and below, the hudson river was its own master, along boatmen floated downstream . eleanor's closest friends and her invited guests over the weekend and breakfast was served. from the end of the table franklin smiled and began joking with his sons and his daughter anna looked at her mother and said nothing but something was different, family tensions had eased, marian and anne
understood that eleanor was happier, that these three built a weekend cottage for themselves on land that he would lease them on the banks of the val-kill creek in estate called val-kill. the story eliminate what is we can see and understand and at the same time i know that we cannot see everything that happened out of site so long ago, but i am reminded of what the poet a.r. amon said. have you listened for the things that i have left unsaid, i respect eleanor roosevelt wise constraint, it seems she said as though one can find privacy only
within the silence of one's own mind. readers who reflect upon the matters will, i hope, find your own deeper understanding of mrs. roosevelt and of mariane and of anne and paulie murray. it's a wonderful tribute to these friendships. eleanor roosevelt belongs to the ages and journey to val-kill begins. thank you. [applause] >> do we have questions for each other? you and i? any questions?
>> yes, i'm curious as to what your respective critique of the movie hide park on hudson would be. >> i didn't like it. [laughter] >> did you think it was inaccurate? >> is that the bill murray movie? >> but i do like bill murray. what was yours pat? >> it wasn't about what i cared about the most, so i just -- >> you think it's inaccurate? >> well, for those of you who haven't seen, remind me and you remind me, it more than suggests that franklin has a physical
relationship with, i believe, it's missy lahan who is in the car. >> missy and there's a new book and i talked to the author and thought that it was not true, it's ridiculous, she thought it was and also with his cousin who was living there, i never heard about that before, i read and saw the movie, you always hear about lorena and mrs. roosevelt and, of course, what happened before he had polio but everything i read with polio he couldn't have sexual relationship. i want to make sure if you think that's valid. >> i guess i just didn't take it too seriously.
the -- i think the -- is the cousin that you're talking about sarah? daisy, daisy. >> yeah. >> there's been speculation about the relationship there before. >> the visited the king and queen, was that fairly accurate? >> i think so. that's pretty good documentation on the visit -- there's a whole book on the friendship between the royals, it's called the royals and that picnic at val-kill was just legendary and well documented. so that part -- >> well, i found it very offensive, first of all, there's no evidence that all that franklin roosevelt and missy lahan, his secretary had a physical relationship. you mentioned lorena, there's a
new book about that and in fact, they left many letters that might suggest that but about missy, i think that was no question and she was such a help to franklin and she was such a help to eleanor because she did so many of the things that eleanor didn't want to do or couldn't do and i thought -- the reason i talked silence and privacy is i'm tired of scandal. i've had scandals and i thought that it was an untrue story, but what you -- the good thing about the movie that was that it's wonderful scene in which the train pulls out from hide park and the queen and king during the war have come to seen the roosevelt, a wonderful story because they are having dinner in the big house and somebody drops the china and one of the roosevelts says, oh, my god, i hope that it wasn't mine because she had loaned mrs. roosevelt
all of hers. but i just -- i didn't think it was a very good movie, but i do think that you have legitimate interest particularly in today's world about the relationships of of sexual identity, but -- and you bring -- you bring it up in your book and that was very interested, pat, because when i knew paulie murray, i didn't -- i had never heard that she was a lesbian. i have a lesbian daughter and i have many lesbian friends and, in fact, it was interested in that but i didn't know that at the time, but i do think there's a lot of distraction about sexuality and there's a wonderful column that roosevelt says, if you live in a fish bowl, people really don't know
anything about you, they know what you wear and what you eat, but they don't know your inner life and i think pat and i were very interested in inner lives, don't you think, but thank you for the question. >> both paulie and eleanor were -- they had more 2000 intellect and way of being than the period of time they lived in and i'm curious about the consequences that both of them might have experienced as a result of their moral liberal thinking, i know that paulie was much more liberal than eleanor but i'm curious about how that evolved? >> well, eleanor roosevelt suffered tremendous criticism
for her -- for her thinking, for her friendships, not just with her women friends but her friendships, close friendships with african americans. i mean, we -- we take it for granted that our the -- the leadership of the country ought to be -- as i sit here i'm thinking, extend to people across all lines and she did that early on when it was not acceptable. she had -- she was very close friends with people who were outside of her class, family, which was uncommon and so she suffered criticism for that but she -- i think because she -- having grown up -- and i think this is something that the two had in common that really shaped them in that is losing parents early and feeling -- feeling
alone in the world and needing acceptance made them really open to others who were experiencing some sort of vulnerability and paulie suffered -- had multiple operations, a woman and progressive and visionary but with paulie she was african american, she was female, she was brilliant and the people she was challenging were the veterans in the civil rights movement and she was young so that a lot of times she was trying to push people forward and they would dismiss her because they were always suspicions about her sexuality, she was a woman, and really impatient, really impatient. she did not suffer fools easily.
so it was always hard for her to work in a bureaucracy. frequently push, push, push and if she didn't see movement, then she would work outside of the institution or move onto another turf and what that meant is that frequently the contributions that she had made in a particular area might get lost or appropriated so that as i say, i say it over and over again, now i see -- it drives me crazy that the naacp never gave the spin guard award which is the association's highest award. but she never got that and she is as important to the brown decision as thurgood marshal than anybody else. they never gave her credit. >> thank you very much. >> as you were reading the letter exchange between eleanor
roosevelt and paulie, it reminded me of the very famous exchange between benjamin and jefferson, i wonder if you got the sense that that letter exchange was an eye-opener for eleanor or if she already had leanings towards -- towards that social justice thing, she just hadn't taken that step yet, did you feel that that initial relationship with paulie really pushed her in a direction she might not have gone otherwise? >> she already had -- when they met, first encounted each other in the 30's, paulie cast her first vote in the presidential election for norman thomas, a socialist, she didn't even vote for fdr. it took her until truman to vote for a democrat and when she voted for johnson, that was the first time she voted on the
democratic ticket and then she always described herself as an independent democrat, if she were living now, she would be registered as an independent. eleanor roosevelt when paulie in 1932 was vote forking socialist party, eleanor roosevelt, of course, was voting for her husband and leaning -- in the middle, maybe tilting toward the left of center, but paulie way wait out of here and what i try to show in the book is the impact they had on each other, with paulie constant challenging eleanor roosevelt and raising questions about the issues, eleanor by tend of her life was no longer telling paulie who was getting arrested for disobeying segregation laws and refuse to go sit in the black section of the bus and getting arrested and eleanor having to write the governor of virginia to ask about her, trying to offer her
some protection, by the time eleanor in 1962, '61, '62 eleanor is disobeying segregation laws and meeting at interracial gathers which are ford bidden in places like tennessee and alabama. what i try to show in the book is that paulie moves towards center, never right of center, always to the left of center and that eleanor moves towards her, toward the left. so they do have an impact on each other such that paulie begins to commit to working within the political system and eleanor commits to working to move things towards -- towards the left and more progressive, the progressive causes, she always had that in her heart but she begins to take smaller leaps and she backs students that were
taking actions that she once discouraged paulie from doing. in fact, one of the reasons she called paulie a fire brain was because paulie was breaking laws and -- and behaving in ways that eleanor thought impractical. she was always the practical one. by the end of her life, she was beginning to move away from always taking being pragmatic. that's the impact they had on each other. >> i wonder if i can ask a second question just very quickly and you may not want to answer this because maybe it's a dangerous question to ask, but are women -- women in leadership roles, do they bring a distinctive kind of vision or sensibility that it's very important that we have that sensibility, and again maybe that's being too general?
>> i think there is the potential but justice -- what we see in paulie, this progressive brilliant woman who moves the country forward, there have always been women who have been conservative and who wanted to move in the opposite direction, so i don't think it's in the genes. >> i think the greatest influence was upon franklin roosevelt. he was called -- she was called his conscious and i think so much of the new deal we can trace to the conscious of eleanor roosevelt and so much of her conscious we can trace to paulie murray, so it is a continuous line.
>> can you tell me how much you think or -- are the ways in which roosevelt changed in the ten years that she was with her friends at val-kill? >> well well, the first time she made a public speech in 1922 invited by nancy cook, women head's division of democratic party in new york city and they were having a fundraiser and eleanor had never spoke to big audience but louis said, pitch your voice low, don't laugh when it's not funny and when you have something to say, say it and sit down and so she appears before this group and she is quite terrified and that's when she met nancy cook and as she goes
down she goes to the front of the room and says, where is ms. cook and nancy leaps forward and trust into her hands, a bouquet of violets and wow it is room which is mostly women, i just met the great eleanor roosevelt and they become friends. by the end, she has really outgrown marian and anne in a way that she doesn't outgrow paulie murray because she's not in it for the politics but in it for the person. it puts a great strain upon the friendship and i tell about that but she's speaking all over the world and she has gained in courage and her greatest courage is confronting franklin and members of his cabinet to think that she should shut up and sit down.
she was so congreso -- constantly in the public eye as his wife and so constantly really brutalized, i mean, just poorly so and i think of that now, somebody said a few minutes ago coming up to the present, i think one thing that we must remember is, is to be kind. it was hard on paulie, marian and anne and the salvation was that they had each other and i will go ahead and say it, women are pretty good at that. [laughter] >> thank you for being here. i've enjoyed this. i had a question about your research and future research and women and men for that and inner
life of women and, you know, people who have celebrity status live in fish bowl and we see what they eat and what they dress and you were able to do that through letters and one of the ways, a big way, well, now, we live in the age of e-mail and people aren't writing letters, but how future generations, how are they going to write biographies, what research are you able to do and much of a physical written record to look at. >> that's a real concern and i always encourage to keep journals and dairies and there are ways of curating and some people use their facebook page like a journal. >> don't put your privacy out there. [laughter] >> i'm so sorry but we are going to have to end this session,
thank you so much to our office. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> and that wraps up the first discussion of the day here at the southern festival of books in nashville, we will be back with more live courage in -- coverage in just a few minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> here is a lock at some of the current best-selling nonfiction
books according to nashville, tennessee, making the christian community more inclusive in a bigger take, followed by we were eight years in power, obama presidency and the election of donald trump. national book award winning author, after that in braving the wilderness, social scientist brown asks what it means to belong. fourth, hillary clinton on her thoughts of the presidential election. look at best-selling nonfiction books according to the nationville books continue with people in a hurry by astro physicists, recount of the late rock musician. after that, andrew recalls, the
first african american player. this is a story of happy marriage. nbc news katie and her experiencing covering trump campaign in unbelievable, some of the authors have or will be appearing on book tv and you can watch them on our website, booktv.org. something that wood row wilson said, may 30th, 1919, the treaty hadn't yet been signed. everything had been discussed and everything had been agreed upon, just a few details remaining to be settled. on memorial day, woodrow wilson
drove with his wife and there woodrow wilson walked out before hundreds, thousands of graves, the white crosses, you see pictures of it time and time again and woodrow wilson who could barely contain himself, there were lots of french mothers and families scattered all around but this was an american cemetery and the french had planted an american flag and wilson got out there and he did a very eloquent speech. the speech was finished, they thought and then wilson said, it's hard for me to read. >> if i may speak a personal word, i beg you, he said to this audience, to realize the compulsion that i myself feel that i am under, by the constitution of our great
country i was the commander in chief of these men, i advise the congress to declare a state of war, i sent these lives over here to die, shall i, can i ever speak a word of counsel which is inconsistent with assurances i gave him, it is inconceivable, there is something better, if possible, that a man can give than his life and that is his living spirit to a service that is not easy to resist, stand against purposes that are difficult to stand against and to say here stand i, spirit to the men who were once my comrades who are now gone and who have left me under eternal bans of fidelity.
i often wish every president had to read that paragraph of that speech before he sends any man or woman abroad. so we live in a world and specially a country whose economy, whose entire foreign policy, you see our identity was forged by this world, world war i and taking a cue from woodrow wilson behooves never to forget that. you can watch this program and others online at booktv.org. here is a look at some authors recently featured on book tv after words, weekly author interview program. former radio host charles provided his thoughts on the conservative movement in
america. and new york times magazine contributor susie reflected on her travels abroad and weighed in on america's global standing. in the coming weeks on after words, federal judge john newman will reflect on his career and now the federal appellate judge, will be speaking on after words and craig shirley will describe and speak of political career of newt gringrich. >> the bush white house despised him. they supported ed who -- you know ed, who was from illinois, moderate, republican and gringrich defeats him by one
>> so, and, you know, bush was just of a different era and a different culture. and it's just -- i think culture trumps everything. trumps ideology, party, everything. everything is about where you come from and what you represent and what environment you live in. >> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. eastern and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific. [inaudible conversations] >> and the next author is ready to go at the southern festival of books in nashville, and it's best selling author liza mundy
and her look at women codebreakers during world war ii. [inaudible conversations] >> welcome to the 29th annual southern festival of books. in today's session we are welcoming liza mundy. ms. mundy has worked as a reporter for "the washington post" and contributed to publications such as "the atlantic," "time," "new republic" and "the guardian." she is currently a fellow at the
prestigious new america foundation where she serves as one of the nation's foremost experts on women and work issues. her previous books include "the richer sex" and "michelle: a biography." today she's going to share with us her newest book, "code girls: the untold story of american women codebreakers of world war ii." in world war ii, over 10,000 women served in the army and navy as crypt analysis workers. their work shortennenned the war and saved thousands of lives. in her book, ms. mundy focuses on dot braden, a virginia schoolteacher who left her home and really jumped at the chance to move to washington, d.c. and enter the somewhat shadowy world, the secret world of codebreaking. and so today we welcome liza mundy to tell us about the code
girls. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much for that kind introduction, and thank you for coming. it's a particular pleasure and honor for me to be at the southern festival of books because i myself am a southerner. i grew up in roanoke, virginia, in the blue ridge mountains and, in fact, i grew up about an hour away from dot braden. as you said, the central, a central character of my book who herself grew up in lynchburg, virginia. and she was part of an unsung cohort of southern schoolteachers who were very specifically and deliberately recruited by the u.s. army to move to washington and take place -- take part in one of the most important code-breaking efforts of world war ii which was the sinking of the shipping of japan. in fact, some of the code breakers at the end of the war wrote a poem about
schoolteachers sinking the shipping of japan. and if you know about world war ii code breaking or have heard about it, you probably have heard of "the imitation game" which is about the code breaking around the nazi u-boat codes and ciphers that were used by the german navy. and there were also many, many american women who participated in that effort. you may also have heard of the battle of midway which is one to of the famous sea battles of all time and a turning point in the pacific war. that was our navy, and that was also ultimately many, many women working on the japanese navy code-breaking effort. but you probably haven't heard about the schoolteachers who were sinking the shipping of japan, because it was a longer effort, it took place over the course of several years. it involved sinking all of the supply ships that were carrying troops, oil, food, fuel, medical supplies to the japanese army soldiers who were spread out on islands and peninsulas and land
masses throughout the pacific. so it was an enormously important wartime effort, and the reason that it has been really secret and untold up until now is because women like dot braden were told to keep it secret, and they did. during the war women who joined the military or worked for the military were often considered to be to wanton women. this was a bit of a stigma -- there was a bit of a stigma, actually, associated with joining the military that you were maybe a bad girl in some way. but, in fact, these were very, very good girls. they were very conscientious. they had gone to college at a time when only 4% of american women attended college. the fact that they had attended college is why they were recruited by the u.s. military, because they had had a good liberal arts education that included both languages and math. many of them often came from teachers' colleges throughout the south because in 1940 about the only job you could count on if you were a college-educated woman was teaching school.
so it was a very specific effort by u.s. military to find college-educated women who could do this work. so the women did keep the secret, and often after the war they left service, they were told thank you very much, never talk about what you did. they went home, they started families, they had babies. and by the 1980s and 1990s when these stories about code breaking during the war were starting to get out, the women often had not had the benefit of military careers. so the code breakers who tended to get written about were the men who had gone on to have significant naval careers or careers in mathematics, men like alan turing, meredith gardener who worked on the soviet code system. and the women really got forgotten because their service took place over the course of a couple of years, and then they went back into the private sphere which was considered the rightful domain, generally, of
women particularly when they were raising a family. so i think that's part of -- that's really why the story has been untold for so long. and i would like to hope that the fact that it's coming out now means that it's coming out at a time where thanks to books and movies like "hidden figures" we're finally ready to acknowledge the contribution that women have made during world war ii, during the 1960s and '70s, often working for the military or the u.s. government which has tended to be a little bit more of an equal opportunity employer than the private sector. so even though it took a lot of work to find living women who could talk about the work that they did, each though i worried -- even though i worried during the reporting that many of the women were no longer with us, i think that because we're at a time where people are receptive to this message, that this is a good time for a book like this to be coming out. and i'm very grateful to the women who talked to me for the
book. i spoke to over 20 living women who remembered quite vividly their war service and in some cases were actually able to draw on sheets of paper the complicated math that they had to do in order to break some of these numerical codes. it was really extraordinary. they also vividly remembered their recruiting, they often didn't know what they were coming to washington to do, they just knew they wanted to serve the war effort. i'm going to talk a little bit about what it was like to try to pull the stories out of these women who still often weren't completely sure it was okay to talk. and some of the specific experiences and memories that they had. and then i will be very happy to take questions. so regardless of whether or not you are a student of world war ii, a student of mill care history, a -- military history, where you casually know something about world war ii or have people in your family maybe who fought in the war, i'm sure that you know that on december 7, 1941, the japanese attacked pearl harbor. this was a shocking event. it had not been anticipated by
the u.s. navy even though the navy knew that something was going to happen in the pacific, even though our entire pacific fleet practically was concentrated in pearl harbor. it was not an anticipated attack. it was the event that propelled us into the war. congress, of course, declared war on japan the next day, and germany declared war on us three days later. i think, you know, many american citizens knew after paris fell to the nazis that the united states was going to be getting into world war ii at some point, but it wasn't known when, and all of a sudden on december 8th we were at war. there was an enormous surge of patriotism throughout the country in a way that i think it's sometimes hard to even to evoke now. but the women that i interviewed described this incredible surge of patriotism, this feeling of unity. one woman i interviewed said, you know, people were picking up rubber bands from the street to donate to the war effort, they were saving their pots and pans or donating their pots and pans,
they were saving bacon grease, they were unduring rationing. all of -- enduring rationing. of course, the young men were shipping out to europe, they were serving on naval ships in the atlantic ocean, they were shipping out to the pacific, to pacific islands, to distant places that, you know, most people had not heard of. and there was this, so this was this massive effort to the point where just to sort of evoke what it was like, my central character, dot braden, was the oldest daughter of four children in her family in lynchburg. and both of her brothers joined the fighting almost immediately are. they were with the u.s. army. and the patriotism, the desire to serve was such that they also wanted their dog to be put toward the war effort, and so they wrote the u.s. government and they volunteered their dog to serve the military in any way that he could. and they actually received a letter from the u.s. war dog training center in northern virginia saying thank you so much for volunteering his
services, but with we have an age limit for the dogs that we're going to be using in the war -- [laughter] and so, you know, poochie can stay at home. and dot actually still has this letter, and she showed it to me. and she said, you know, they were really efficient back then, they wrote you back. [laughter] and, in fact, they did. so poochie stayed home, but dot's brothers went to war. and she, like everybody else, wanted to serve the war. so there was this massive display of fortitude and unity and determine mission that, in fact, the japanese had not anticipated. they thought the american people would be very demoralized after pearl hard or door. and -- harbor. and, of course, it was shocking, but there was this real surge of determination to win. but internally, there was a certain degree of cays cross and a lot of recrimination in the military, and particularly the u.s. navy as to, you know, why had this happened? how could it be that we had not anticipated the pearl harbor attack? and this was a recognition that u.s. intelligence was really inadequate to this massive task
of fighting and winning a global war in which case fighting was going to be taking place all over the world, literally all over the world. and the united states knew that even as it was gearing up factories to produce tanks and planes that it had to really gear up our intelligence service as well. and we didn't have spies in any foreign country, we didn't have the cia. that kind of thing was going to take time to embed people and develop spies that could help us anticipate enemy strategy. but we could start, and we had already been doing, we could intercept the radio messages and the telegraph messages that were racing around globe. because this was such a far-flung war, it was a war, among to other things, of signals. it was a war of radio transmissions in which commanders in germany, commanders in tokyo, commanders in the united states had to communicate with their troops. diplomats had to communicate with each other. there was a group of japanese
diplomats quartered in europe who were communicating with tokyo, and we needed to read their communications to find out what japan was planning but also what european commanders were planning and what hitler was thinking. so the war, among many other things, became a war of intercepting signals and basically hacking enemy communications to find out where the ships were, what the enemy was planning. because the men were shipping out and because the military needed to ramp up so fast, there's actually a document in the national archives that i saw where the u.s. navy is brainstorming where we can get some people who could learn how to do this. and you can see written on this document news source, women's colleges. and so somebody thinks, okay, you know, maybe we should try using the women. and i think generally there's an understanding now that rosie the riveter contributed to the war, that women were entering factories, and they were helping to build the tanks and the bombers. but it's important to recognize that educated women were also
being recruited to do the intelligence work and the brain work that would drive the war effort and give the military the intelligence information that they needed. so there is a great northern thread, i think, to this story in which the navy -- which is a very sort of elite, white-gloved services -- decides to pluck women from the seven sisters' schools. the navy goes to vassar and wellesley and smith and radcliffe and bryn mawr, and seniors at those colleges get secret invitations to meetings with math and acken strongmy professors -- astronomy professors where they're asked two things. do you like to work crossword puzzles, and are you engaged to be married. [laughter] and the correct answer to the first was yes, and the correct answer to the second was no. so these women at these northern seven sisters' schools were trained during the course of their senior year to do crypt analysis. they learned about the behavior of language, they learned about the history of clip to analysis
which had been going on for centuries in european cups, and they were told -- cups, that they were told they weren't to let anybody know about the work they were learning to do. they came down to washington as civilians in the summer of 1942, right about the same time the battle of midway a happened, and that was a major code breaking victory. all of a sudden everybody in the military knew code breaking is going to be one of the secrets of winning this war. so the navy was picking off these women from these northern colleges. the u.s. army, which was hotly competitive with the navy and also had responsibility in europe but also in the pacific ocean where all these japanese army troops were quartered, they thought, okay, if the navy is going to these northern schools, we've got to find women in some other part of the country. so the army decided -- this was also a very specific strategy. they decided to send handsome, young army officers to fan out -- [laughter]
throughout north carolina, virginia, west virginia, south carolina, mississippi, tennessee, texas, and they would station themselves in post offices and hotels. and they -- and this explicit strategy, because southern women were thought to be particularly susceptible to the charms of a good looking man -- [laughter] that women would hasten to join the war effort and come to washington with the specific hope of making a marriage. and again, i read oral histories of the army officers who cooked up this scheme, and they were very self-con graph la story. and they literally said, you know what? we had barefoot girls come in from the hills of west virginia because they thought, you know, they were going to get a good looking young husband. and, in fact, the women that i interviewed were often looking to get out of marriages that they were not interested in -- [laughter] there was a rush to the altar as soon as world war ii broke out. there was a, you know, a
recognition that men wanted somebody to write home to. they wanted to have somebody waiting for them when they came back home. some men wanted to have an heir in case something happened to them while they were doing the fighting. so women were actually quite pressured to get married when world war ii broke out, and some of the women -- including dot braid p, my central character -- weren't that interested in getting married right away, and they were very happy to find, to have another opportunity to do something other than teach school and to maybe not have to get married right away. and also, most importantly, to serve the war effort. so i just wanted to talk a little bit about what it was like to try to convince dot braden at 94 that it was okay to tell this story. i was put in touch with her by the nsa, the national security agency, which is our current -- which came out of the wartime code-breaking efforts. after the war the army and the
navy operations merged to become what is now the nsa which is our clandestine surveillance and eaves dropping agency and which we continue to hack into the communications of endingmy countries. they were, they had known about this story just as nas a saw had known about the women of "hidden figures" for quite some time. it was known in the nsa that women had contributed in this significant way and had comprised more than half of our code-breaking force during world war ii. and the nsa, perhaps needless to say, was interested in getting this heroic -- and it truly is a heroic story -- out into the public. so through a round-about way, they had gotten in touch with a family who had, the family of a schoolteacher from bourbon, mississippi, named louis -- ruth weston who had taken the train to washington in 1943 and and had become the great friend of dot braden. finish and although ruth weston is no longer alive, the nsa had
communicated with her family, and they put me in touch with dot's family. so dot's son, jim bruce, was there with me in the room of the assisted living facility where she lives now in midlothian, virginia, and we were trying to convince her that it was okay finally to tell the secret that she had been keeping for her whole life. and jim was particularly motivated because he had grown up knowing that his father had served the war effort. he had served the army as a meteorologist, and he had been in africa and in the middle east predicting the weather for pilots that were flying sortis over this. and so he knew that about his dad. he knew that he had grown up reading the letters that his parents had written each other during the course of the war. they didn't know each other that well. like many couples who were communicating through the war, they became engaged purely through correspondence. jim didn't know his mother was writing quite a few men during the war -- [laughter] and dot was at first a little reluctant to reveal that because
she thought maybe she was unusual but, in fact, that was quite common. women were encouraged to write soldiers. some of the letters were serious, some were playful, but it was all part of keeping up morale. some women code breakers were writing as many as 12 men. it was sort of the early version of selfies. [laughter] so there was a lot of transmission of selfies. so jim had read these letters, and he knew that his mother had done something during the war, and he had always been eager to know -- as had his children and the grandchildren. so they had been pressuring her for years, what did you do during the war, grandma? and she, probably about 10 or 15 years ago started at least hinting that it had to do with breaking japanese codes. and the family also knew that she was very great friends with this woman, ruth weston, who she called crow because her, either her first or middle name was caroline, and the milkman had
delivered the bill to crowline, and dot start calling ruth crow, and so that became their friendship name. they knew that the two women had this special bond, that they had done something secret together, these two former schoolteachers, one from mississippi, one from virginia. but they didn't know what they had done, what the basis of the friendship was and why they couldn't talk about it. so this was a great opening more jim when the nsa contacted him to say, you know, do you think your mom would talk about it. so we were sitting there trying to convince her at 94 that it was finally okay to talk, and i think she was enjoying a little bit our misery and torment as we were trying to -- [laughter] because, you know, a big part of her, like many of the women that i interviewed, really wanted credit. rightfully so, wanted credit for the contribution. because these women had to sit at their dinner tables for years and years and years after their war while their husbands talked about what they had done during the war, which was important,
heroic service, but they couldn't say anything. so she wanted, rightfully, credit. but she also, there was an internal war going on because she had literally signed a vow of secrecy her very first day many washington d.c. and nobody had told these women when that vow of secrecy was lifted several decades later. so they didn't know. so we're sitting there, and jim is at one point goes, he goes, mom, you know, if you don't finally tell us the details, i'm just going to leave. i'm going to walk out. and at another point he goat, let it rip -- he goes, let it rip, mom. she's sort of toying with us. and she says, well, you know, at 90 what are they going to do to me? [laughter] are they going to put me in prison? i said at 09 if they do -- 90 if they do, it won't be that bad. [laughter] and she laughed. and finally, she started telling this incredible story of growing up in lynchburg, virginia, being the eldest of four children. the daughter of a single mother.
and who was supporting the family by working as a secretary at a uniform factory in lynchburg. and her mother was a very determined and intrepid woman who wanted dot to have more opportunities than she had had, more earning opportunities, and i knew that it was very important for dot to go to college. so by hook and by crook, her mother made sure that dot applied to and was accepted to randolph macon women's college in lynch burg, virginia, one of many private women's colleges that my state of virginia has in part because women were denied admission to uva and so many of the state universities of virginia for so long. so we have many women's colleges. dot went to randolph macon, she majored in english, but she also took lastingen and physics and french and was very good in all of those things. and she was teaching school in chatham, virginia, when war broke out. all of the male teachers left, many of the female teachers left to join the men. and dot was teaching english,
french, latin, history, physics, she became the physics teacher, she was teaching hygiene. she was bleatly swamped. -- completely swamped. and she was so exhausted when she finished her first teaching year that she came home and said, mama, i'm just not doing that anymore. they've dumped all the teaching on me, and i justin can't do it anymore -- just can't do it anymore. her mom said i've heard the army is recruiting in lynchburg, virginia, something to do with the war effort. and her mother made it sound sort of shadowy and mysterious. and dot walked into the virginia hotel, she applied for a job. she didn't know what the job was going to be. she was, it took a little while to get accepted because unbeknownst to her, the fbi was investigating her background very, very thoroughly to make sure that she was reliable, to make sure that she wasn't a drinker, to make sure that she hadn't been arrested, that she really had gone to college and done this job. they were talking to her
employers, her teachers, her family members, and she didn't know that. and then she got a summons to washington saying you passed this test. she has this memory of her mother and her aunt standing with her on the train platform as she is holding two hardbacked suitcases coming to washington, d.c. with no idea even where she's going to stay that night or what she's going to be doing. and her memory of arriving in union station, catching a cab, plunging into the suburbs of arlington, virginia, where i live where this was this massive army code-breaking compound. all she remembers, this military wire which is absolutely accurate, she remembers walking through the front door, seeing military officers but also collecting in a front room with all these other southern schoolteachers who have come from durham, who have come from mississippi. she remembers signing a loyalty oath, and then she remembers thinking that they're going to actually put her up for the night somewhere, the army. and they looked at her and they said, so do you need a bus to
take you wherever you're going to stay? [laughter] she said, where i'm going to stay? they said, well, don't you have someplace to stay? and she said, no. so they had commandeered a patch of ground in arlington where some dorms had been very quickly built to house the women war workers. she was told that she could go rent a room at this place called arlington farms, and she had to call her mother and ask for a month's rent in advance. and she felt very bad about it, because she was going to be sending money home but, in fact, she had to call her mom and say could you wire me the money so i can pay my first month's rent. but within a matter of weeks she had received training in the gee ogg by of the pacific, the japanese language and the beginnings of how to break these very complicated numerical codes that the japanese army was using to direct its shipping traffic around the pacific. so she was learning that the japanese army was using four-digit code groups. so if there was a word like troops embarking, debarking, be
there was a word like moro, which were the commercial ships carrying food and oil, she learned that the p japanese army would send out codes to say where that ship was going to be, and she learned where those particular phrases might be embedded. she learned a complicated kind of math to strip out encryption. because these were basically, they were encipheredded or encrypted messages that the japanese were sending. she learned how to do the math in her head that would enable her to strip out the encryption and get down to the original code groups x then she learned where in a message particular words might be appearing because they were very stereotyped messages that tended to be similar. when she got a message that seemed important, she would jump up from the table, and she would carry it over to a woman named miriam who was the overlapper. and this is a great part of the story, the southern story. miriam was a new yorker.
so miriam had found her way to the army operation from new york city, and to the said that miriam was the -- and dot said miriam was the most condescending northerner that she had ever met -- [laughter] and that one time over lunch at the cafeteria miriam said pointedly, i have never met yet a southerner who could speak good english. and dot was offended, and she thought to herself another condescending northerner, but she didn't say so. so dot was fixated on the fact that miriam wasn't nice to her and allegedly had a fiance in the fighting and a yellow diamond on her finger that she was very proud of. so dot had her suspicions about whether either the fiance or the yellow diamond were real. [laughter] she was fixated on whether miriam was honest about her engagement and whether that was a real diamond, and miriam was fixated on dot's southern accent. and i should say there were northerners at arlington hall
who were professors, male professors from many colleges, and one of them referred to the huge cohort of southern women at arlington hall, the code-breaking facility, he referred to them as the jewels because so many of them were named ruby and opal and pearl and even emerald. [laughter] and, in fact, when i was looking through these wonderful rosters that do exist, they were. they were actually named ruby and emerald and pearl. but, of course, it was a con descending thing to say. so there was an interesting clash, actually, between southern and northern coming, during the course of the war effort. but dot and miriam had to work seamlessly together, and they did. because dot had to take the messages the miriam, miriam would line up a whole bunch of messages to figure out where in each one the word might be appearing. they could sort of use that overlapping to tell what the code, the consistent code group at that particular time because the code groups changed, what that group was. and then they would take it on to somebody else who was called
the reader. these were other schoolteachers. it was a massive kind of assembly line where each woman had to master her own part of the process. the assembly line had been designed by women. it was a huge operation being run domestically by women because the men were out fighting. the intelligence that they got from those messages every day, every day would be radioed to american submarine commanders in the pacific who would be waiting at noon the next day for that troop ship and that oil ship and the ship carrying the spare airplane parts, and they would sink it. and they sank them over and over and over. and in the national archives, i saw records of the boats that were sunk during the course of the war, and it was mind-boggling. it took boxes and boxes to enumerate all those sunken ships. and it was these women who were doing it. and, of course, it was the men in the field, of course it was the american submarine commanders, of course that was the case. and they didn't know where the
intelligence was coming from. they didn't know that the codes had been broken. you couldn't reveal these enemy codes had been broken. so there wasn't even a knowledge in the military of where these broken -- of where this intelligence was coming from, of why we knew the noon position every day. and, in fact, the army would send up planes so that the japanese thought that it was planes who were spotting the moros. so there were deception operations as well to disguise what these schoolteachers were doing. and in the records, so effective were there efforts that in the records of the national archives i saw the messages that were starting to emerge after a year and a half of this code breaking, and the messages started to say things like, well, we have, we have two months -- two weeks' worth of rice now. this was coming from the japanese army, and we've learned that if we don't cook it and we just chew it, it will last us for two months because we can't get any more rice. so the impact of their sinking
of ships and the fact that the japanese army troops on these islands couldn't be supplied was showing up in the messages that they were reading at arlington hall. and similarly in the training documents, they were taught to look for stereotyped words and phrases that might appear. and i saw one training document that they devised later on in the war, and it was for a particular code system, and it said, you know, these ships often depart from this port and arrive here, but you can expect now in the messages that if there's a code group for this group of troops as expected to arrive at this time, that the code group for what has become of them may also appear next. so that suggested, of course, that the troops weren't making it and that this was happening frequently enough that it had become a stereotyped part of these messages, what has become of these troops. so the magnitude of the efforts
wasn't necessarily apparent to the women. many of them never even understood the impact that their work was having on the war. but as i looked through these files that have been declassified that now exist in the national archives, i could see the impact that it was having. and so secret was this work that when dot finally started unspooling this incredible story of how she was recruited and started talking about unpleasant miriam, the overlapper from new york city, she clapped her hand to her mouth because she couldn't believe that she had said the word overlapper." and the reason for that is because overlapper was a term of art. and the women were told when they were in washington that they must never use certain words outside the code-breaking compound because somebody on the -- loose lips sink ships, right? so somebody even on the streets of washington might hear them if they said security, if they said intelligence, if they said overlapper, the fear was that
somebody connected with the axis might hear them utter this word and know it was code breaking that was taking place in this enormous army compound in arlington, virginia. so she had never even said that word. and when she said it, she couldn't believe she said it, and she still felt very uneasy about having said it. and sort of the sad fact was that the women were told to say if anybody asks, hey, what do you do in that big compound in arlington, virginia, they were to say that they were secretaries, that they emptied wastebaskets and sharpeninged pencils. and that's what they did. and because they were women, people believed it. [laughter] people believed that the work they were doing couldn't possibly be interesting, or it couldn't possibly be important. so ironically enough, the women were better positioned than almost anybody to be doing intelligence work because people simply assumed that the work they were doing couldn't possibly be important and couldn't possibly be
interesting. so, you know, she finally at 94 uttered the word overlapper, and we eventually had, you know, a number of wonderful conversations about her work and her contributions and her great friendship with her fellow code breaker. and i also, it was such a heroic thing that the women did this work and kept a secret, but i also think that where it has hurt all of us and why it's so important that it come out now is that there still is a view that women are unsuited for certain sectors of our economy, that, you know, there was -- earlier this summer there was a lot of delay about the dearth of women in silicon valley and the dearth of women in tech. and there were, there was the infamous memo in which an engineer for google posited that women maybe just aren't biologically suited for the kind of hard brain work that goes on in computer coding. and this was the birth of the computer industry. and i think the -- this was the birth of cybersecurity. this is what they were doing. this is what we were doing.
we were hacking other people's messages, and we were protecting our own. so these women were there pioneering the field at the dawn of the computing industry, many of the machines that were used were early computers and the dawn of cybersecurity. so the fact that the women were good girls and kept a secret so well, i think, has prevented people from realizing that not only do women belong in these industries that are such important parts of our economic sector, but in many cases they pioneered them. that is why it was doubly important to try and get the story out, and i'm very grateful to the women who talked to me for the book. and i'm very grateful for my great friendship now with dot braden, and it has been such a pleasure to get to talk to them, and i'd love to take questions now and hear what you're interested in. if people would come up to the microphone, then everybody can hear. >> about 15 years ago, a book
came out called "roosevelt's secret war," which you may be familiar with. and he said pretty much what you said, that most of -- the best information they got and the most prolific information they got was overt rather than covert sources and leading to eventually the nsa. i don't remember his saying anything -- well, if he concluded that roosevelt liked all the cloak and dagger stuff, that's why he sent spies overseas, but i don't remember him saying anything at all about what you're talking about with the women in here. maybe he did and i just missed it, but i'm wondering why it took so long for this to come out. >> well, i tried to sort of address that, and that is a great question, and i'm so glad that you can asked it. i will say, i will permit myself to say that one of the galling things about reading many of the code-breaking histories that did come out about heroic code breaking during the atlantic and pacific wars is that many of the historians will mention in a
couple of paragraphs or even sometimes a parenthetical, oh, by the way, much or most of this work was being done by women. and so there is a recognition. it tends to usually be in passing. and then the fixation is on the more prominent men who were out there in the pacific, who were out there in the pacific breaking codes in the battle of midway. but what goes unsung and unsaid is that they were being supported by women. and this was true immediately right after the war. i quote, you know, statements on floor of congress from, let's see, clarence hancock who was a member of congress from new york, saluting the code-breaking forces during the war and talking about how important it was. and he says i believe our cryptographers, that the work they did was as important to winning the war as any other group of men during the course of the war. and the fact that more than half, more than half of the code-breaking force was female was unmentioned. and so i think it started at the
very beginning. i think to a certain extent it was perpetuated in the '80s and '90s when these books started coming out. but i also want to say, again, this is known at the nsa, and there are a number of historians connected with the nsa who helped enormously, who helped me navigate the records of the national archives. a retired nsa historian spent so much time with me explaining the naval war, showing me where the records were. so there were men -- another nsa historian, lou benson, who wrote about the women of the soviet code-breaking project that started during the war. and lou was an early historian who recognized the importance of the schoolteachers, and he actually wrote about the schoolteachers who were recruited specifically to work on our soviet code-breaking effort. so there were male historians who were writing about it. some of those writings were declassified for a long time. lou's writings were -- i'm sorry, were classified for a
long time. so i think, again, it was baked in from the start that people being praised were mensches and it became -- it was perpetuated for a number of years. but i'm very grateful to the historians, female but also male, who helped me as i was trying to learn how to do this work. >> you said something that really caught my interest. you said that the congressman spoke on the floor about the clipping toker cryptographers. i thought that was very hush hush. i know the chicago tribune, a very anti-roosevelt paper came out with a japanese code had been broken -- >> at midway, yeah. >> that could have blown the whole thing if v.a. pan had any -- japan had had any kind of intelligence service. amazing that he brought this up on floor of congress. >> yes. it was very important during the war that the enemy not know that we had broken the code. it was very important the germans not know we were beating their u-boat codes, because they would change the code books, and everything would go dark. so it was -- there were a couple of times during the war where it
leaked out a little bit, and that was hugely problematic. and that was why the secrecy was so important. there was some recognition that code breaking had been important after the war. there was a letter that was published in "the new york times" that general marshall had written to thomas dewey during the war enumerating the many victories that were due to code breaking, begging dewey to keep it quiet during the presidential campaign, but the letter was published after the war. so it is a funny thing that there was recognition that this had been important, but a lot of the records were classified after the war. we thought we were going to stop code breaking after the second world war. we thought that we were going to just pack up and go home. but, of course, world war ii was then followed by the cold war, and we realized that we were going to continue reading other people's mail as they put it, we were going to continue penetrating the communications of communist cups, the soviet union, east germany, cuba. so i think there might have been this period of time where we
thought we were going to close up the shop, and then the shop, it turned out, stayed open. and there were actually a number of women who participated in the wartime code-breaking effort who became a crucial part of the early nsa staff who worked, who spent the rest of their careers in washington breaking the soviet messages, the cuban messages, east german and, in fact, a woman who was a 22-year-old recruit from russell sage college in new york spent her life working for the nsa and was the first female deputy director of the nsa. and there's a very important room at the nsa that's named a after her. but that's a great question. >> okay, thank yous. thanks. >> i have a question, i'm actually a graduate of a women's college, and -- >> which one? >> meredith in raleigh. which brings me to my question which is in the history of meredith college, i don't -- there's nothing about this.
so, you know, how were they recruited in were the women's colleges aware that this was happening? and how was that represented in their history? >> yes. so often what happened when women were specifically recruited from colleges, both women's colleges and teachers' colleges, what would happen is a member of the military would contact a math professor or astronomy professor. often they were the same person. and some of the colleges have actually started to reconstruct this history. so winthrop college has begun to recover this. they were contacted by the u.s. army. they had a clandestine cryptoanalysis course, and the graduates were hotly competed for by the military. most of them went up to work for the army code-breaking operation. and, in fact, i interviewed a woman who's still alive, she was a music major at win p drop. music majors were also very
adept because they were good at reading patterns. she was a high school band director when she was -- her scores on that course found their way to the army code-breaking operation, and she received a message saying we could use you in washington. and she went up there, and she knew that her knowledge -- she knew that, she knew that her code breaking had sunk a japanese convoy. and what was interesting talking to her about this is that later on in her life, she was very proud of it. the women were very proud if they knew what had happened. they felt very proud and satisfied at that moment. but she said later on in her life when she began having children of her own and she realized there were japanese families, that there were japanese, you know, young men who died as a result of her code breaking, that she came to feel differently about it. and i think one of the reasons that the stories have been untold for so long is also that, you know, the mood changed in the country, and we had the vietnam war, and we came to sort
of have a different view of the military. and the women -- in fact, i talked to some women when they told their children what they had done, their children might say, my god, you caused all these deaths, you caused the deaths of these japanese soldiers or sailors, and it was hard for the women to evoke what the cup had felt like at that time -- what the country had felt like at that time and how to important the war was. so she personally, you know, came to feel more complicated about -- because here you are, a schoolteacher, you're doing this important work, but the consequences are taking place in a completely different venue. and anyway, that's a wordy answer to your question about women's colleges, but some of them are starting to reconstruct this history. >> i was wondering how you came to pick this subject, or did it pick you? >> i feel like it picked me. that is a great question. and i have to thank my husband, mark bradley, who was reading a declassified history of the soviet code-breaking project
that was written by this historian, lou benson, that mentioned the women and the schoolteachers who went to work in this very small, very top, top secret. we weren't supposed to be reading the russian messages during the war because they were our allieses, but we did have a small code-breaking operation for russian messages, and it started during the war. it continued in a big way after the war. so he was reading this history. he thought that it seemed interesting. i thought it seemed really interesting and went out to -- we have a cryptology museum. we have a version of blechly park in suburban maryland attached to the nsa, and i talked to some -- a female historian, betsy smoot, who's a curator at the museum, jennifer wilcox, and a librarian at the museum, renee stein, incredible women who laid out the story for me, so i do feel like it found me, ultimately. >> please forgive me if you mentioned this, but how many women were involved in this? >> at least 10,000.
and i think probably 15,000. the army had a huge code-breaking compound, as i said, in arlington, virginia. there were 8,000 people there at the height of the war, 7,000 of them were women. the navy had an operation going on in northwest d.c. at what is now the department of homeland security. both of these facilities still exist. the state department trains its foreign services officers in the army facility, homeland security operates out of the one in washington. there were 5,000 naval code breakers at the navy facility, 4,000 of them were women. so if you do the math ors there were at least 11,000. from the army facility because the women were mostly civilians, they could come and go. so this were, i think, 18,000 badges generated to admit people into the army facility so that suggests there were 18,000 total working there. so i figure at least 11,000 women did the work, probably as
many as 15 or 16,000 during the whole course of the war. and there were also -- the army let its women go into the field of battle. the navy really didn't except some who were allowed to go to hawaii. it was very disappointing to the naval women. some of the wacs were allowed to go to europe, tokyo, and they were doing end coding work. so they were doing cybersecurity to secure our communications. after the d-day landing, there were women encoders who followed the men into france and actually were bunkered near versailles. and the women were encoding our military messages as we were communicating throughout europe as we were chasing the germans through france and belgium. so really in terms of communications, in terms of code breaking and also code making, there were far more than 10,000 women who did this work. >> we are just about at the end of our time.
so i want to thank liza mundy for her wonderful presentation and invite you all to join us at the signing tent over at the war memorial plaza. if you have more questions, you're welcome to ask them. and she will be signing books there for about half an hour. so we look forward to seeing you there. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> and you've beenen listening to author liza mundy, author of "code girls." and we'll be back with more live coverage of the southern festival of books in nashville in just a few minutes. ♪ -- [inaudible conversations] >> booktv tapes hundreds of author programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we'll be covering this week. monday we're at the new york historical society to hear eva moskowitz discuss her
experiences with the u.s. education system. later that night we'll be at word bookstore in new jersey where diana henry cez will describe the events leading up to the worst day in wall street history, monday, october 19th, 1987. on tuesday it's back to manhattan for kenneth white's look at the personal is and political life of president herbert hoover at the roosevelt house. also on tuesday in boston, nbc news correspondent katie tour will share her experiences covering the trump campaign. on thursday we'll be at the jewish museum for francine -- talk on the life ofgold da meyer, israel's fourth prime minister. and on sunday we're on the west coast at the sf jazz center in san francisco for the 2017 american book awards. that's a look at some of the events booktv will be covering this week. many of these events are open to the public. look for them to air in the near future on booktv on c-span2.
>> trump had enough resources at any time you couldn't knock him out, but in addition trump did something i couldn't have done as i look back on it as one of the great acts of genius in american politics comparable to fdr inventing the fireside chat. trump -- what nobody in this city -- this is part of why i wrote "understanding trump." nobody understands donald j. trump had a prime time it's show for -- television show for 13 years. it was the top show in the country for four years. now, because it wasn't on pbs and because it didn't follow downton abbey, nobody in this city understood that. [laughter] so nobody in this city said the day he announced a guy who knows television that day is by definition formidable. what trump had learned, and he writes about this in "the art of the deal" pretty decisively. what trump had learned in new york in the '80s was that any publicity which printed your
name correctly -- [laughter] built strength. and so he didn't, he was happy -- and this is part, i actually think he should modify what he's doing in terms of the tweets and all that, because i've told him i think 10% less trump would be 100% more effective. but he had figured out early on that if he could engage the media, that the hunger of the 24-hour-a-day cable news system and the power of facebook and twitter meant that he could just, he could just take all the air out of the room. so all these other guys are running around raising money in order to be able to buy tv ads to be on television. trump would get up in the morning, he would tweet, that would then set up his argument with morning joe. he'd call into morning joe who would always take his call, and they'd argue for 25 minutes. then he would call into "fox & friends," and they would have a love fest for 25 minutes -- [laughter] then he would have breakfast. i mean, he's already generated,
you know, and so all morning the media's covering the argument that trump's in the middle of. then about ten in the morning, he would do a press event to keep the momentum up. and then about ten in the evening, he would to an hour on hannity for free. so in the course of a normal trumpian day, he's at about a million dollars free media. meanwhile, all of his competitors are off the air, trying to raise money to be able to get on the air. and what was happening just the sheer name id, you know, there's only one poll in the entire campaign where trump's not ahead for the nomination. people tend to forget this. he was the front-runner from the day he announced except for one poll where dr. carson pull ahead. and yet nobody in the elite media could say to themselves -- and it's an interesting example. nobody in the elite media could say to themselves, uh, if he's the front-runner every single poll, could it be he's the front-runner? [laughter] because everybody in the washington elite knew he couldn't be the front-runner
because then everything they believed in would be crazy, and since they couldn't be crazy, he had to be crazy, and he couldn't be the front-runner even though he was the front-runner. i'm in a situation where i'm watching these so-called experts who, by the way, have learned nothing. the stuff you get on tv today is as stupid and as wrong as the people who laughed when he announced, the people who laughed in the primaries, the people who laughed at the convention, the people who laughed in the general election. they haven't learned anything because they can't because it's a repudiation of their own life. so their choice is i can believe in a fantasy which at least validates me, or i can decide the world has really changed dramatically and that invalidates me, i pick the fantasy. and that's literally where we are right now which dramatically -- it'll be interesting to see how the dance continues for the next three years. i think gradually trump will figure out an angle to break out of all of this in a way that will be historic. >> it's still happening. you're saying people haven't
learned from the campaign. >> no. look at the whole russian fantasy. you know, what happened election night was the democrats said hillary can't have lost. and certainly, donald trump can't have won. so somebody cheated. i wonder -- putin cheated. do you realize this is all putin's fault in and that means there must have been collusion. do you realize they must have colluded? and so for the last since months everybody on the left has been walking around town chanting watch for the russian connection, watch for the russian connection, look for the collusion. turns out even dianne feinstein, the ranking democrat on the intelligence committee, says there is zero evidence of collusion. so now the newest one is, ah, but there was obstruction of justice over the collusion. [laughter] so the fantasy that didn't occur is now being replaced by -- by the way, technically the president of the united states cannot obstruct justice. president of the united states is the chief executive officer of the united states. if he wants to fire the fbi director, all he's got to do is fire him. and somebody said i thought it was a very good test, if john f.
kennedy had fired j. edgar hoover over investigating and wiretapping martin luther king jr., would people have thought that it wassing obstruction? you know? so there's not really collusion. so what's the latest leak to "the washington post" whose record, by the way, of running anonymous leaks is actually beating "the new york times." it's an enormous achievement, and i give "the post" credit -- [laughter] that in their energy and enthusiasm, they have been even more consistently wrong than the times which is actually in the olympics of stupidity, an e enormous, enormous challenge. [laughter] so the latest thing is mueller, who will not be able to get anything on russia or obstruction, is now going to look at finances. and what you're seeing, of course, is exact -- this is why when i was speaker i opposed renewing the independent counsel act. what happens is you bring in a whole bunch of high-priced lawyers, they give up their regular career, they're going to look for a scalp. they're going to find somebody. in the fitzgerald case where
comey brought in the godfather to his children, fitzgerald, in order to appoint him a special counsel when they knew there was no crime because, in fact, valerie plame had already been, was no longer a protected name at the cia, and they knew who had done it, richard average taj had leaked -- armitage had leaked it. and they still appointed an independent counsel who promptly decided his message was to get dick cheney. it is the most grotesque example of the miscarriage of justice. you go back and look at that case, that's why i am very worried about mueller. mueller's not a bad person, he's a patriot, he served with great distinction in vietnam. mueller, i have no doubt that he is a person who is going to do his best. but he is surrounding himself with a collective group of people who are going to engage in a witch hunt, and i encourage everybody to actually read arthur mill orer's "the
crucible" which is about the witchcraft trials in the late 17th century in salem. and understand that's the mentality of the left right now. the left right now is engaged in the salem witchcraft process. we know somebody's evil, we know somebody's bad, i wonder who we should burn at the stake. maybe it's you, whoever you are. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> and booktv is back live from the southern festival of books in nashville. starting now, author jared sexton recalls his experiences covering the 2016 presidential election.
questions but we need to give a little room for the next presenter to get in the room and get set up and when you have a question, you need to go to the mic because we are being broadcast live on c-span. okay, after the presentation jared will be signing copies at the signing tent out in the plaza. so ourout ar jared sexton, creates creative writing in georgia but a journalist who agreed to cover the 2016 presidential campaign. he didn't realize right away the divisive rage and political circus he would be witnessing. events that shaped the election and powered donald trump into the presidency, sexton first
person account, candidly, relatable and frightening. so without further due, jared sexton. [applause] >> thank you so much for coming out. this is wonderful. i'm very happy to be here. as roberta's kind introduction mentioned, when i got involved in the 2016 campaign i kind of bit off more than i expected to chew. at the time i was not planning on reporting from these rallies. i wasn't really planning on becoming a trump supporter whisperer as it's turned out to be. it's kind of funny i actually was doing this as a way to procrastinate from writing a novel that was kind of a disaster at the point but i
ended up going to the trump rallies and what i saw there really troubled me, was really some problematic behavior and my reporting from there, i think, took off mostly because if you might remember, this was at a time where coverage of trump consisted of video cameras being pointed at the electorate as giving speeches and more of a side show as people taking him seriously as candidate. the first thing i'm going to read and i'm going to read a couple of things today, i'm going to read from december 7th, which was the day that he announced the proposed muslim immigration ban and this was one of the first times that i realized that in donald trump we might have a problem. [laughter] >> i'm glad we can get together and laugh about this. it feels good. [laughter] >> it's a nervous laugh, but
it's fair. on december 7th, the crowd wait to go see donald trump's speech aboard the uss yorktown harbored in mount pleasant, south carolina was a buzz with white people buying the campaign signature hat, a cheep red number reading make america great again that was first adopted when trump needed something to keep head of hair from fluttering out of place in front of the cameras. between purchases they talked about ethnic people and blacks and other groups they found both unseenly and ungrateful. as expected, conversation eventually switched to the horrifying i attacks that had been dominating news coverage. a month before in paris, extremists had killed 130 people and just five days earlier a couple of with possible ties to isis had killed 14 in san bernardino, california. everyone waiting to get in seemed terrified about being killed by islamic terrorists and certain that america would soon
fall to the barbaric hordes. the man next to me preached to the line about the merits of dropping the entirety of the united states arsenal of nuclear weapons on the middle east and killing every last muslim before turning to trump. i just like that he's not going lie to you. you ask me, if this political correct stuff has got us in all of this trouble. a woman next to me, moments before taking great joy in baiting a desperate vender into thinking she was buying a t-shirt, said, i like that he's doing this on an aircraft carrier. it seems right, he's just so strong. [laughter] >> in the distance, the sunset behind the uss yorktown, the lines stretched for somewhat called a country mile and they sturdied themselves against the cold december breeze. every one headed backward and had it backward all along. pundits run hands over poll numbers wondering what it would take for trump to full-timey
lose momentum while saturday night live booked him to coast and cable news programs interviewed him every second they weren't showing him live in rallies. they wondered how does trump drag so many people to extreme point of view. the truth is the trump hadn't dragged anybody anywhere and he didn't have impressive poll numbers because he somehow or another convinced somebody of anything. trump was as of that moment the heart beat of an america with which many of us were unacostumed. this was a group that lived their lives in unbelievable anger, they were either poor or less rich than they thought they should be or middle class or upper middle class and they were almost to a person white, they were angry and all they wanted in the world was to blame somebody.
the truth is trump wasn't the cause, he was the disease personified. he was repeating to this group of people in a voice they've been dying for, the very thing they'd always we wanted to hear, someone was to blame. it was the immigrants, the muslims, the liberals who wanted nothing more than marginalized the white-working class and didn't matter what got in the support's way, constitution that claimed to love so much or group of people they wished to denied basic decency and basic rights. trump's true talent was finding these people's pulse. we put out a statement today trump said as he shuffled through papers last night. it's impossible to watch this gross incompetence and the people, the media they went crazy, donald j. trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states until our country's representatives can
figure out what the hell is going on. the crowd surrounded me inside the aircraft carrier exploded. they had been cheering every custom-made applause line, they called president obama a coward, a criminal and this was the dirtiest word that night, a secret muslim. anything the outside world could see racist, shouted out amen and preach as if they were congregation and racist church that was just getting going. when protestors interrupted the speech in and at least five of them, crowd of men surrounded them shoved their fingers in their faces and screamed trump, trump, trump until security carried them away. the look in those men's eyes told me we were only days or months aways from one of the scenes getting out of hand. we have no choice, trump said, we have no choice, we have no choice. all right. so i'm going to read real fast a little bit of background.
i was looking at the calendar today and the last year has been sort of a world wind, i'm sure it has been for the rest of you. i feel like we are experiencing a year like a dog does, it's like 7 years. [laughter] >> but i started -- i started looking at the calendar and my life has been a little strange since i sort of got drafted into this trump thing and so on my birthday october 7th of last year, i live in statesborough, georgia and we were getting ready to hit with matthew and you might remember that that was the day that the access hollywood video was released on tv. a little back story on how i approached this, before i lost power for 48 hours, i thought the candidacy of donald trump was over, then the hurricane hit, knocked out all power and i
woke up the next morning and found that not much had changed. i then had to deal with the tree that did fall over my driveway and i went out to deal with it i thought that the candidacy of donald trump would be over and it was not and so i've been on this book tour now for a few weeks and one of the questions that people keep asking me is what would it take for donald trump to lose his base, time and time again i think we have seen that his legislation hasn't matched campaign promises, he has shown a great willingness to fluctuate on -- on, i guess, you would call the principles and i -- i remember going to this rally, it was actually a year ago yesterday in north carolina and so this is the chapter where i deal with that question of what it would take for donald trump to lose his base.
i totally moved the page. that's not good. all right, we got it. all right. on october 14th, i was drive to go charlotte, north carolina for what i hoped would be a nearly empty trump rally. in the days since the release of access hollywood bombshell matters had deinvolved as several women had stepped forward to accuse donald trump of inappropriately touching them in the exact manner he layed out for billy bush. it was bad enough to think a misogynist bragger might be elected president but much less a sexual predator who had been preying on women for decades. even supporters i assume had to turn their backs on them at some point. in a way, i had always hope that trump himself might suffer an attack of conscious after a long, hard look in the mirror and decide to save what little dignity he had left. with each success of controversy and every unwarrant pped an
childish insult, i hope the man's fever might break so he can recede from the public eye. first rally took place in greensborou and left no doubt that that wouldn't be the case, when addressing the accusations particularly the claim level by jess, fondled her in flight of new york city, he denied charged but attacked her on her looks, believe me, she would not have been my first choice. that i can tell you. similar denial of natasha, pinning a story on people magazine, mogul had shoved her into a wall and kissed her against her will. check out her facebook page, she said, again referencing her looks. you'll understand. we don't care, we don't care and trump belittled the women, in
charlotte i found a packed group itching to blame the victims and exonerate candidate, i heard a woman in a shirt reading deplorables, let's call them what they are, they are hoars, generally the supporters would agree. opportunists, stories that hillary clinton herself had apparently paid the accusers to slander trump. the more extreme critics took it even further. women say all the time they've been raped in trump 16 shirt which friends had reddick -- ridiculously said that fox news put victims to it. these women, they lie all of the time. men and women alike took turn to blame accusers. whether he did it or not, didn't
matter, a man like trump did that, maybe you can take it as a complement, don't be so uptight for once. most were convinced the story had been convinced it was to derail trump including women who showed her hand as she said, it makes me shake to think they'd hurt a man like that. trump took the stage later surrounded by female supporters in pink jackets, the red women for trump, signs proclaiming the same thing and had been handed out to supporters as they entered the rally as you have seen, he told the crowd, i am a victim of one of the great political smear campaigns in the history of our country. they're coming after me, to try and destroy what is considered by even them the greatest movement in the history of this country. there's never been anything like it. his supporters cheered wildly and chanted lock her up every time he mentioned an accuser and
similarly called for the prosecution of every publication that had published their accounts. when trump mentioned in people magazine, somebody yelled liar and received round of applause. as in previous rallies, there's an air of violence in the room. many echoed the calls for hillary clinton to be executed for her treasonness actions. all of them needing to be done away with for the good of the country. later as trump assured the crowd, he wouldn't assault a women because, quote, unquote, you would be very impressed actually with my life in so many regards including that regard. and as fab rated stories might be the only way they are going to stop us, a protestor interrupted the speech u most celebrated while he was led away but a few broke out to follow him as he was ejected talking and joking loudly about wanting to drag him to death behind their trucks, so folks, trump return today speech, here is the
story, we are going to bring jobs back to north carolina, amen. a woman near the back raised her hand. the gospel continued minutes later as trump talks about primary including win in indiana which he had been possible in part by the endorsement of my childhood hero, basketball coach bobby knight. it was like a miracle from god trump said remembering how he had come to find knight's phone number on a pile of papers, right, it was from god. trump listened to the innovation before pointing out a sign, jesus for trump, that's right, he said. it was in soux city iowa that donald trump said one of the lines, i have the most loyal people, where i could stand in the middle of fifth avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn't lose
any voters, okay, it's like incredible. certainly trump enjoyed most loyal and enthused supporter among any candidate even if that devotion effectively baffled experts, low-information voters or people made up their minds, others pondered if the base was cemented by popularity of poorly educated, i love the poorly educated. i still can't believe he said that. [laughter] >> i still can't believe it. even more the real reason was forged in something deeper particularly in the arenas of race and class. there's truth in all of it, for sure. even at the beginning to have campaign it was easy to see that trump celebrity and permit attracted voters who would normally be uninterested in politics and post election autopsy seemed to prove a good number of voters were swayed by fake news story that one would
think a little critical thinking would easily be bunked. entire books would be written about trump's popularity with working-class whites specially those who grown disillusion in a society, multiculturalism of having robbed him of livelihoods and seed of power. the movement as leader referred to, more with the sum of its parts and the narrative that trump had use today bind it all together. to fully grasp what happened in 2016, it's necessary to glance back at the world shaking upset in 2008 but first term senator from illinois named barack obama. it's easy to forget now after eight years of his administration exactly how it felt to elect him, figure who effortlessly blended a keen intellect and undeniable charisma, obama's promise of hope and change both concept
that is invited as much projection as trump's call to make america great again which was a long exhale. liberals might pause at the notion but it certainly felt at times like obama might be something of a saver. even nobel prize winner wrote in new york times in february 2008, i'm not the first to point out that the obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. back then this was a constant and favored criticism by members to have right-wing media. often times obama was ridiculed as christ-like fraud supporters lambasted as sheep who past in his glow. hope and change, his favorite slogan, opponents cherry-picked rhetoric. i face this challenge with profound humility senator obama said in june 2008 after securing
the nomination. but i also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the american people because if we are willing to work for it and fight for it and believe in it, then i'm absolutely certain the generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment that we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless, this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet begin to heal. it was obama's supposed mastery over the sea level that many fixated on and mocked including rush limbaugh who considerable heft on the right. limb but puzzled over candidacy, it's not a political movement, it's a rock concert tour, cult, religious movement, whatever it is, it has gone beyond politics. candidate obama recognizes speeches were better served to
appeal to individual's needs rather than how they communicated specific plans. hope and change, states of being but rather how a citizen should view the world whether they were if this tax or that stimulus plan. we all want to matter limbaugh continued. virtue of his existences alone. certainly obama strength as campaign was serving as figure head for movement ta reenergized block of voters who were tired of bush's wars and social classes and wrecking the economy. the name on the ballot representing reputation of the era and promise of new and better horizons, more than anyone else in 2016, donald trump constructed his campaign purely as a cult of personality
whereas obama presented fresh start but trump appeal today voters who lost optimism and still remember a time when country served only their interest. other candidates gestured at the reality but only trump was willing to give himself completely to the narrative. obama told supporters they saved destruction from rising waters while trump promised them they were doomed to drown. in politics, successful campaigns are usually cults of personality. the candidate at the center of the movement accepts position at means to gain momentum and shut the mantle and set until the role of executive. trump was and is the exception to the rule and because his machine closely mirror the actual cult, found himself at the head of dangerous group. devotion was born of trump's
propensity to lie coupled with willingness to vilify anybody that might stand in his way. john mccain and mitt romney had ball -- along the way, he said whatever is necessary to garner votes and didn't hesitate if that meant denying he said it at a later day, video evidence, be damn, never would have been possible if he had not neutralized the press, one entity that could have stopped him and discredited him, trump's master stroke of 2016 campaign was setting his sights on the media early in the race and planting the notion in his supporters' mind that any story that might depict him in a negative light was automatically untrust worthy. by doing this, trump cemented
himself as the sole keeper to have true, position that gave him unlimited power on whomever best served him at the moment. later when more and more stories focused on trump's corruption and shady dealings, the wall around his supporters had already been sealed. within the confinement, trump's movement became subculture, a group that banded together based on share interests and opposition world around them but the wall had been under construction for years. acting on marketing demographics, right-wing media and companies have created a standard existence that placed inhabitants outside of mainstream popular culture. conservatives had their own celebrities, own movies, own music and own reality that fox news and talk radio fortify on a daily basis. they already share ad common existences when donald trump climbed to the top of the wall and spoke to them in a language they already understood.
despite assertions otherwise, included men and women from a variety of different social and economic backgrounds, and with something closer to a community when trump acted upon their fears. radicalization changed the make-up and trump and movement splintered off of the republican party in the same manner that cults often divorce themselves from traditional faiths. when the split happen, the members of the movement found themselves isolated from all past contacts on social media and real life they had already cut off ties or had their ties cut off from anyone who might question their political stances or oppose their world views. their options for escape were limited and their exposure to outside world all but severed. they had only each other and their dear leader. as is often the case the leader of cult is confronted with a multiple of sins which are a by-product of personality capable of engineering a cult in the first place.
scandals, be they his business dealings, tendency, perceived reliance on russian interference, supply of lice and exaggerations or flood of women claiming to have been assaulted by him, further insulated from move. trump's voters were confronted almost daily with the choice between believing the media was corrupt and out to get him which they had been told over and over for a year and a half or giving in and accepting the fact that their candidate was the living embodiment of everything wrong with the country. assisting the decision was trump's other worldly ability to believe his own lies. for years those around him marveled how easily trump changed his mind to suit his situation in the process apparently his memory and past events in order to avoid on his own part, talent that anyone who has ever dealt with chronic liar
with tell you, transforms life into a fuzzy reality. if trump had ever stopped once to question his own string of untruths, if he had ever admitted on a single occasion that he had been wrong or caught in a lie, the entire elusion could have been interrupted. trump was shameless in charade because he swallowed own fabric cases whole and projected them back to flauk all ready to suspend disbelief. the relationship is terrible hard to break because reality of the god head must be interrupted or the follower must decide to face their cognitive head on and choose themselves to abandon their attar existence. in october of 2016, as more and more women came forward including multiple miss universe contestants that claim that trump had come backstage to see them as they dressed, a claim that trump himself admitted, i will go backstage and everybody
is getting dressed. i'm allowed to go in because i'm the owner, i sort of get away with things like that. unfortunately the victim in our country never stood a chance. thank you. [applause] >> so, i am more than happy to take questions but i believe somebody has to go to the mic which is an intimidating thing. it takes one to start it, right? the priming of the pump which i believe trump made up that phrase. hi, how are you? >> how are you?
>> i'm well. >> who are you reporting for and are they still online? >> yes, when i began reporting on the campaign i was an ent dependent journalist, i was doing this for a literary journal out of dc and jersey and then when my live reporting from trump rally started to go viral i started doing reporting for new york public and new york times. they're still available. >> okay. >> i have to do this. >> well, my question is, what parallels do you see now between now and 1968 when nixon won a very narrow victory over somewhat corrupt democratic candidate and, you know, i grew up in washington, d.c. in 19968
to 1970, my mother was campaign for eugene mccarthy, our house got fire-bombed by the klan. i read part of your book this morning and you were talking about the threats you've got, but, you know, i see the level of violence much lower now than it was then and it's usually ends up mostly being threats online, people have threatened to kill me online and it's never come to anything. [laughter] >> so my question is, you know, do you see unraveling like nixon did in '72 or do you see it ending before that? >> well, first of all, i'm sorry you had to deal with this. that's awful. >> of course, my mom at the time we were living in washington, d.c. so we went down to mobile, alabama to my grandparents' house where she spent time registering black voters. >> yeah. [laughter]
>> yeah. well, so i think we are in one of those weird moments where, you know, again, isn't it awful you can barely use language anymore that trump hasn't somehow or another come in dear, with your in time that we can only look at past events to try and put into context, right? a lot of people -- the only way that they can start talking about trump is by talking about richard nixon, right? i think it is both not necessarily as chaotic as 1960's and early 1970's, obviously. i read nixon land and if you read that book, bombings and murderers every single day. it's just awful, but we are also in a time where you try to compare someone like trump to nixon, you're talking about criminalistic or paranoid or lying elements of a president who is also intelligent and
capable of like manipulating a system and i think when it comes to trump, we are in a time of great potential danger. this sounds awful, but when the tragedy occurred in charlottesville, i was not surprised. from my reporting, the rally i had mentioned in south carolina, it seemed like all was going to take was a spark to lead to someone being killed and unfortunately we have a group of people who now support him, these are the same people who are threatening both of us apparently who have been emboldened and energized by trump's candidacy and presidency and i'm talking about separatists, i'm talking about kkk, white supremacists, people who have made threats on myself and other journalists. they really want to cause damage and they are emboldened and ranks are swelling and we saw obviously the results of the radicalization in virginia.
i think the potential for chaos is there and potential for a lot of tragedy is there and if we can make it through this administration without something along those lines, i think that any more people dying, i think we should consider ourselves incredibly lucky. >> hi, good afternoon. i look forward reading your book. i just finished katie's book, what concerns me as an educator and it's ironic that we are here in celebration of what, reading and books that people don't read, i get the new york times every day delivered to my door, i still read the washington post, i still read magazines and journals, i'm going to have to lie down because of my age i might have to sit, but in all honesty, we don't have a culture of reading. once i was here i offered my new york times to a gentleman sitting next to me, his response, i don't read the fake news, my response, no, thank you would have been enough.
[laughter] >> we have a problem here. i really see it. i teach in the schools, reading is fundamental and from that, i don't care what your opinion is, we can be equally opposites on the side of the spectrum as long as you cite facts, rule of three that come from reliable sources of information, where are those? facebook is not it. youtube, nice cat videos. [laughter] >> twitter, fun. but we have a problem when we are down to 140 characters ironically the same number of the nuclear codes which i find irony, in all honesty, we have problem with people reading books. we are at this thing but this is select audience. >> well, to -- i think you're dead on. i think there's a -- i read all these articles and there are all
the think pieces and pretty much every website or nierp -- newspaper, how are we going coconfront fake news and the anecdote is education and critical thinking. when we look back at trump years -- when you look back at this era, i think we are going to see a lot of this as the result and consequence of mishandling of american education. [applause] >> i will say, this i'm an educator as well. i teach at a university and, you know, i've had my fair share of first-year writing classes, right, where you are suppose today teach critical thinking and, you know, basically people to be skeptical. there is plenty of room for people to have political disagreement, there's plenty of room to talk about budgets and
where to move money and what programs work and what programs don't, but as long as we have a subjective reality, it is almost impossible to live in a shared society and we are not going to take care of this problem until we start taking education seriously and i think that's a much larger issue of debate that needs to be tackled before things get better. thank you. >> so are the rallies still as fervant, i have read where people are walking out, that kind of thing? >> nobody reported this, but whenever trump started having rallies and i'm sure maybe you have watched them, i don't know, maybe you're not like me -- [laughter] >> before trump got put on the teleprompter via steve bannon, the rally speeches were
rambling, they would go on forever. it would be in what i call the pit, supporters up in front of the stage, people who come with children and their families and their community, they would leave, right, it would get to the point where you would hear supporters wearing trump memorabilia, what is this, i don't want to diagnosis him but he enjoys attention -- [laughter] >> it was obvious that he liked being on stage and having microphone and captive audience and people would eventually walk out. as far as rallies recently, i've given myself a break from them since the election but for my colleagues that are going into these things, it's gone back to that because as you may have noted, all recent rallies he has gone back to rambling specially since bannon has been gone and rallies, i think, serve more as feeding a need for attention
that he needs and so he will get up and do that and from my understanding the people are leaving again and actually -- and there's a chapter in the book about this, i do not think that he would have been elected president if steve bannon wouldn't have come on to the campaign because if you go back and you look at the speeches he gave before bannon got there and the speeches he gave after, the speech that is bannon gave him got a a lot of people who were unsure and focused them, but we are back to the rambling need for attention and the rallies, i think, are a lot of them are pep rallies, people come together to be excited but they are losing people as time goes on. >> hi. my name is gregory taylor and i am ambassador for the civilian conservation corp. and i want to agree with you in reference to education. it is sad that the fdr's project, ccc was the best
gesture that they know anything of regarding education. also, i am a graduate of selma university and i do not have the emotions of the 60's or the 50's, i'm actually speaking to you from my birth memory, i studied prenatal and i'm saying all of this to say that in 1954, 1956 would have been our first national education holiday, not the mlk holiday and when i first heard his voice in 1963, i said, this man is someone that i'm going to stay out of the way of his life, a lot of people don't believe it, i didn't listen to speeches, i have not od'd on the mlk dream, i'm not suffering of the mental of the 60's and movie selma has contributed to the fuel that this country is under the influence today in
terms of emotion. >> well, i would start -- i think it's interesting that you bring up the civilian conservation corps which my grandfather was a part of and i was raised up to believe in public work's project. i was raised up to believe that the government ought to invest in the well-being of its citizens. i think that it is an absolute tragedy that we are having a constant fight over things like kneeling before an nfl game, that we are having constant fights about what hosts say before award shows and all of this, so i take your question -- i would really, really like to get to a point in this country where we are interested in the welfare of each other and the welfare of our fellow citizens and i think that makes a big difference. thank you. >> thank you. [applause]
>> hi, i want to ask you kind of to look back and look forward. you mentioned the media not doing it's job, can you talk more about that, what you think might have been made a difference but then looking forward, there's a lot of pessimism, i feel optimistic because i know me and a lot of people have really begun to support mainstream journalism, investigative, i subscribe to anything even though i don't read it. i don't care if i read it. [laughter] >> really, i subscribe to it and recycle it. i don't care that i read it. but two-thirds of the people read it and believe it, so we have to remember that it's not -- not everyone thinks it's fake news. we are really kind of getting reinvested in journalism it seems to me, would you agree with that? >> well, twofold, one i think what we are talking about a lot in this country -- a lot of people are like, you know, i watched the shows and they're just so surprised that donald trump came to power and they are
so surprised and all this. trump is a direct result of what media has become in country. highest rated and most popular television show right now is america, right, and it's like a very dramatic netflix series about a decline of civics and the country, right, and so donald trump, it's the most amazing thing. we have the show which is on cable news shows and on blogs and radios and podcasts, we have the entertainment show, right, which is republicans versus democrats, who won today, it doesn't matter what they said or what they got to accomplish, what -- who won a victory. donald trump isn't someone who uses that but believes it. i think there's a reason he got billions of dollars in free advertisements, there's a reason why they played every single one of his speeches, it's because it created anxiety and created a dependence on the news, it was a
television show that people could watch. here is the hope, though, and every time i'm on the book tour, what is the hope, give me some hope and i will tell you this, first thing is first, i am meeting so many people who are now active and educated and up to date on things. i'm having conversations with people about the specifics of legislation. whenever we had the repeal, replace argument, one of the 17 times we had, every one i met knew the numbers, they knew how much a certain state would get and what the -- what the process was in order for the bills to get passed. that's incredible, right, because the honest to god truth, talking about to anedote, that is one of my hopes. the other hope is that
journalists have really kicked it up a notch. people are on the story and they are dogged. i think that this country will be a lot better for it. >> well, and it's impress i have to me the source that is journalism have -- journalists have access to. there could only be two people in a room sometimes but they have a conversation reported. there's a lot of work -- >> well, it's also -- it's also to the benefit of journalists that everyone within trump's administration is not loyal to him -- >> right. right. >> they're terrified of him and so you have a group of people who like salute him in the morning and they're on the phone with the new york times by the evening and the reason is because he is an abusive boss and so you have a lot of people who are not loyal and so that happens. but we are -- i think we have hope if that helps, thank you.
>> first thing, thanks for your book, jared. >> thank you. >> i do think there's distinction between print journalism and television journalism. i see what you say, the golden age of print journalism is upon us, although there's always the suspect articles in the new york times as well and some of those opinion pieces are just terrifying -- oh, my god. my question is this, the subtitle of your book is american rage. as a person who is appalled by my family members and i can't talk to them about this -- [laughter] >> we literally had an incident in a restaurant where my brother got up and slammed his chair against the table and left and i mean, we are at odds, there is a huge amount of rage and it's on my part too now and -- so i'm
asking you to go out on a limb. i know that -- i'm asking you to predict somehow how does the nightmare end? how do we get out of this bad dream? >> well -- [laughter] >> that's the next book? [laughter] >> we need you to get started on the next book, jared. >> well -- [laughter] >> okay. for starters, i have a similar situation with my family. i come from a very poor mid western background. i come from indiana, family of mine workers, factory workers, prison guards. they are trump supporters and they have been -- they've been the group of people who would have supported trump for a very long time. we have had disagreements for a long time. i guess to start because the more that i look at this problem and the more that i start to
try, i call it the knot, we have a big knot in this country that we need to untie and the problem is it's so large and it's been there for so long that we don't even know which problem is which and how it's interconnected. it's very large. i would have said years ago that this miscommunication, the echo chambers, the separate realities, dysfunction between us, i would have said years ago there's no way to repair this, it's only going get worse, i mean, you know, i read stories now about like artificial reality, it's bad enough that we have phones where we can read our own things much less goggles and world, in the past i said we are going downhill and we are not going to live in a shared society. i have hope now. i really do and i have hope because when i talk to people -- i have been around the country with this book. when people see the book,
they'll ask me, that an election book, and i will say yes, i talk to a lot of trump supporters, these are people who have harassed me, get me fired from my job, i've had people threatened my job, show up at my house and breaking windows and things like that, when i talk to them, if i don't talk to them about politics first, if i bring up something that we have something in common, they automatically have to see me as a person and if they see me as a person and i see them as a person, that is a lot better starting ground than you're a trump person and i'm on the other side. and i have found -- i have made friends of people who have harassed me, i have made friends of people who tried to get me fire and starts with human perspective, the moment that we forget about twitter, left or right media, once we start talking to each other like living, breathing human beings
with names and families and backgrounds, once we do that, i think that's where we find hope and i think that's where we find common ground and i think that's what i'm looking at now. >> quick follow-up not to take too much time. i agree as song writer, nashville and all, that the -- the empathy is where we can other. >> it's not easy. >> we are in empathy crisis, lack of empathy crisis. my biggest fear is it's going to take a catastrophe to bring us back and that's what i lay awake at night terrified. >> i share that fear but it's my sincere hope, what's left of it, that i'm clinging to that it's not going to come to that. i think you're exactly right, there's a crisis in terms of empathy and i think the sooner that we are able to work on that individually, i think the better we are going to be collectively. thank you so much. i think that's all the time i have for questions. ly talk to you afterwards, but
>> and that was author jared sexton from the southern festival of books in nashville. now we will be back shortly with the final live program of the day, it's a discussion on the south in the mid-20th century. [inaudible conversations] >> here is a look at some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to books in nashville tennessee, topping the list is pastor john with his thoughts on making the christian community more inclusive in a bigger table followed by we were eight years in power, examination of race, the obama presidency and the election of donald trump by national book award winning author. after that in braving the wilderness, social scientist brown what it means to belong. fourth is hillary clinton with her thoughts on the 2016
presidential election followed by field guide to landscapes that inspired the little house series in the world of laura ingels wilder. look at best-selling nonfiction books, astro physics with people in a hurry, neil tyson, petty, after that, in strong inside, andrew recalls the years of perry wallace. memoir, this is a story of the happy marriage. and wrapping up our look at best sellers according to nashville, nbc news katie and her experience covering the trump campaign in unbelievable. some of the authors have or will be appearing on book tv and you can watch them on our website
booktv.org. >> there are two that are sort of similar, what advice do you give to young women who wants to go into politics and would you encourage your daughter to enter politics if she were interested but you knew she'd experience the same level of sexism you've encountered during political career? >> let me answer this question in general because i would say the same thing to any young women who were to ask, i'd say, look, even though i write at length about the challenges that women in politics face and point out it's not just me and it's not just democratic women, it is unfortunately still a very, very tough double standard. i would still say that if you are willing to enter politics
either as candidate, as a campaign staffer, as a person in government and public service because that's how i view the bigger definition of politics, you just have to be prepared and try to have the confidence without being walled off, without being, you know, too defensive and it's easy for me to say, i've been all of those things at various points in my public career but it's a really great experience and it is important to have more women in politics and it is important -- [cheers and applause] >> that we all support each other in the political arena. you know, one of the great
quotes that i have loved for years is eleanor roosevelt saying for any woman who enters the public arena she needs to grow skin as thick as a hide of rhinosaurus because you will be judged from anything from your hair to your voice to whether you are married or not married, whether you have children or don't have children, so it's a constant got-you game and you have to be clear about why you're going into politics and what you hope to achieve through your -- your efforts, but i -- i say in the book, you know, by pulling the curtain back and talking about how hard it is, i don't want to discourage anybody, i want people to be more aware of it, so we can cull it out for what it is. you know, but this is common across every walk of life and --
[applause] >> there's a fascinating article in the new york times sports section today about women in sports and the grief they take because of their voice, and as somebody who has been called everything when it comes to -- well, everything, but i'm thinking particularly about voice, it really struck home with me. you know, you just have to be prepared, you have to have at least a sense of humor to get through some of what you're going to face but if you are prepared, if you educate yourself, if you are surrounded by good, you know, good supporters, friends, family, people who can tell you the truth, you know, like lisa started off by saying it's a terrible to write the book, i'm grateful for that because she's a friend and you need friends who tell you when things are good and when things aren't so good. i think it's really important, so i've got the new organization called onward together that i've
started and -- [cheers and applause] >> and really the primary purpose is to support groups that are recruiting young people specially young women, training them, funding them, we also highlight and lift up wonderful groups like indivisible which is leading the charge to -- [cheers and applause] >> keep our attention where it needs to be like we have got to stop this latest attempt to repeal the affordable care act that is going on. [cheers and applause] >> so i think there's a lot of good work to be done and -- >> and onward together it was you and howard dean, you met with howard dean and really thinking outside the box to bringing young people and getting them involved and support them because they know a lot more than people like -- >> well, it was so great. after the election, one of the things that kind of, you know,
got me out of bet and moving again were the stories i would hear, people would call and say there's this new young group that one of your campaign staffers has started called run for something and it's -- [cheers and applause] >> aiming at recruiting more young people or there's a group, there's a group called swing left, they're going to try flip the house or -- [cheers and applause] >> a group that i've worked with before, emerge america which has a great record of electing women, color of change which focuses on, you know, african american young people, getting them into politics and doing some of that work. so i felt like there's so much we can do because at the end of the day, and i just have to say this and i hope you help me figure out how we are going to make it happen, everything we do we can -- we can write books, people to run for office but if
we don't get people to vote starting in virginia and new jersey and then in 2018, we are not going to turn this around. [cheers and applause] >> yeah. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> and now more from nashville, discussion on the history of the south, this is live from the southern festival of books on book tv. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] >> hello, welcome to the session. i am dan -- director of collections of the tennessee state museum. it's a pleasure to welcome you to the 29th annual southern festival of books. as you know, this -- all sessions and the entire program is free of charge. if you're interested in helping out in the future, you can make a donation to the tennessee
humanity's council either facebook or on site here or on their web page. after this session is over, our authors will be at the signing table and we invite you if you haven't already acquire a copy of their book to do so and be there where they can sign the books. my remarks here are going to be very burden of proof because we have a lot to cover in one hour. i will first introduce kathy farnell who grew up in montgomery, alabama, actually cleverdale, near montgomery and wonderful book, duck and cover a nuclear family and it's about that area in the 1950's and 1960's which was an interesting time. both of her parents were lawyers, she has a degree in law, she practiced law until she said she got bored with it so
now she has a media project which is a nonprofit and does collaboration. in 1998 she did one with smithonian institution. next author ivette johnson has a very interesting book, centers on genewood, mississippi, the song of silence, the subtitle tells us a lot. a story about family, race and what was revealed in a small town in the mississippi delta. it centers on her grandfather booker wright, and a man who knew how to survive and in some sense flourish in a system and
in a system of racism, identified as racism. she was a producer in 2012 with an award winning film, booker's place, a mississippi story, without further due, we will invite kathy up here and then ivette. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. i'm kathy farnell, i'm from montgomery, alabama, my book is about nine years that i spent in cleverdale school starting in 1958. i don't know how well you can see this, but the cover, we have a photograph of the bomb blowing up and a photograph of school children hiding under desks from the hydrogen bomb. now, i would like to know, when you were a kids how many of your families had a fallout shelter? anybody? because in 1958 fallout shelters were big business.
in montgomery the shopping center had a sidewalk sale of fallout shelters. it was like a boat show only different. my mother and i were looking at the fallout shelters and some of them looked pretty interesting because they were quite expensive so i asked my mother, are we going to get a fallout shelter and she said, no, we are going to die, it's cheaper. [laughter] >> i tell people that for me the 1950's were mclike the adams family than leave it to beaver. ducking cover is about what happens when a social order is in the process of changing. during this time period in addition to cold war, montgomery was at the center of the civil rights movement. from a child's point of view this was a very confusing time. i think everyone has seen the photos of the separate water fountains of the era in which you have water fountain with a big sign white and another with a big sign color. we thought the water was coming
from separate tanks, it just made sense in a way. and it wasn't just white kids who thought this, i have a black friend who said that when he was a kid the thing to do was look both ways, come running up, drink out of the white fountain and announce that's what i call water. the impetus to right, duck and cover came from the fact that i had just read one too many coming of age books and these are mainly novels, set in the civil rights era which featured heroic white children or heroic black children and i didn't know anybody heroic. in fact, most of the people i knew behaved pretty badly. the book uses a child's voice, this means the narrater is not all annoying. i might add at this point that anybody can write a memoir, you do not have to have famous. i took a memoir writing class in h the teacher assign today write
-- assigned to write incident. something happened in first grade and we had a show and tell a kid came in dragging a human skeleton. someone asked the teacher who the deceased used to be, she said, probably some convict. she may have intended this to reassure us but had the opposite effect. this is the same teacher that later when we were supposed to be participating in fallout drills by hiding under our plywood desks said we did not have to hide under a desk because it was better to die sitting up straight. [laughter] >> there used to be a cable television channel biography channel and every life is a booivelg. if you -- biography.
in my anniversary my husband gave me a photo of ballet girls. the fifth one is hanging upside down by knees from the ballet bar. the caption is, there are two kinds of people in the world, you and everybody else. duck and cover is about a period of social upheaval seen through the eyes of a child who really doesn't have a clue, thank you. thank you. [applause] >> first, i would like to thank you for coming, thank you for joining us and i told the professor of mine a few years ago, probably more than a few years, i said i just want everybody in the world to know my grandfather's story so every
time a new person gets to engage in the story it really means the world to me so i say that sincerely, thank you for being here. the reason it's called the song is because my grandfather who was a waiter in white restaurant in segregated south use today sing the menu. they were suppose today recite the menu but after -- he worked for 25 years, reciting the menu over and over again every night probably got boring so he turned it in to wonderful riming song and this is a story that i learned about in my mid-30's. my grandfather was actually murdered the year before i was born so i didn't meet him and all that i knew when i was growing up was that his name was booker and that he owned a cafe, that's how it was pronounced. i announced that cafe was
something like a starbucks or any other coffee shop and it wasn't until, again, in my 30's, when i learned that his cafe was a full-service restaurant that opened breakfast and joint at night. he died the year i was born but when i was 2 my family moved out of the south so my father can play profession football for the san diego chargers in california. i'm completely unbiased in what i think is one of the most beautiful cities in our country, it's -- if not in the world, san diego is lovely. i knew very little what life was like in mississippi, i wasn't really a part of what i understood and my parents like a lot of parents would tell stories about waking up early in the morning to garden and having to walk to school in horrible
weather but that's what all parents do, the things they are describing as hardship, these are exaggerations and i really wasn't curious about life in the south. i had no interest in learning more, understanding what my parents went through until i was a parent myself and i knew that i had issues with race and by that i say, you know, a child going to all-white schools and i often say that i grew up in the shadow of the civil rights movement, we talk a lot as nation of race today than we did in the late 70's and throughout the 80's. when i was growing up the idea was, it's over, we passed the laws it's over and if you have an experience that feels racialized is because you black person have a chip on your shoulder, it's because you black person are playing the race card, the problem no longer
exists. so imagine a child or a young adult experiencings racism or you know, having someone be unkind to you or even call you the n-word and when you final ji the courage to talk about it, being told that it's in your head that you must -- you're being sensitive so for me talking about the pain and discomfort i felt about being black in america in and of itself was a sign of weakness or a sign that something was wrong with me. and so i just didn't talk about it. i didn't really think about not talking about it. it was a choice about not making a choice. one day i was making dishes and my big-brown-eyed son began pulling on my shirt, mommy, why are you that color but i'm this color and daddy is a different color? my husband is mixed, he has a white mother and a black father
and so my son is sort of a combination of the two of our colors and, you know, i didn't know what to say to him and i tried to explain -- again, he was about 2. i tried to explain the story of colonization to him and he didn't really get it, but, you know, i thought okay, i dodged a bullet. i woipt have to deal with this. over next several weeks and months he kept talking about it and asking questions and seemed disturbed and i thought to myself, i don't want him to walk the path that i walked of trying to figure it out not figuring it out and then choosing silence and so i thought i'm going to have to look back into african american history and back into the history of my own family so that i can have a story to give to him one in which he could see himself as a víctor but i didn't believe that myself so i began looking back and very early on i
found something that no one in my family knew existed and it was sort of funny, i learned about my grandfather appearing in a news program in mid-1960's and until i got the film footage which took four years, everyone in my family thought that i had the wrong grandfather and that i was mistaken until they got to see it for themselves. but this is what i saw which is sense changed my life and informed the work i've done in the last ten year. of course, it wants to restart, but -- i think i'm good. okay, here we go. we should have sound.
how, and i dreamed about what i -- [inaudible] i don't want my children to have to go through -- [inaudible] that's what i'm struggling for. i don't want this and i don't want that, but i just want my children -- [inaudible] i'm on my way. remember, you have to keep that smile. >> so that aired on nbc, on the national news, in 1966. and the night after it aired, he was pistol whipped by a white police officer, and he lost his job. i, you know, didn't really understand what the big deal was, because what he said was i don't like being treated terribly. i didn't really get it. i learned later that the narrative was, well, our blacks are happy, they are fine with all of this. so he really was, you know, defying what the rhetoric was at that time, the rhetoric that was against integration. but i really didn't understand
why, you know, what was the big deal. why get pistol whippedsome why lose your job of 25 years? so this memoir was basically about my efforts to understand his story and the making of the documentary that dr. pomeroy mentioned that came out in 2012. but it really is about, you know, sort of underneath all of that, underneath the research and the discovery was me coming to an understanding of the legacy of trauma, the legacy of hate experienced by an entire people group, but also the legacy of the perpetrators of that hate. because no one, you know, has come through that season of life who lived in that time in that town, none of us have come through unscathed. so thank you. [applause] >> if we have questions, and i hope that we do, there's a microphone right over here to
the side if you could go to the microphone, please. well, i have some questions. month bombly -- montgomery was the center of the civil rights movement off and on. what do you recall from the famous bus boycott there? i know you were only 3 years old at the time, but it reverberated throughout the years. >> that's right. i was 3 years old when they had the montgomery bus boycott. the main thing i remember was a man named olivia love worked for my family, and i remember my father, who had a very bad temper, got mad at libby because he was going to have to pick her up every morning. and as far as i know, most black
people in montgomery who worked for white families, they would say i'm afraid to ride the bus. and my father i remember yelling at libby, you're scared of some old abernathy, ralph abernathy was in montgomery at the time, and i thought it was something like a werewolf or something like that. so that's the main thing i remember about the bus boycott. after the boycott was over, the bus stopped right in front of our house, so i'd ride the bus downtown with my grandmother usually, and the buses at that time had one seat in the very back of the bus that went all the way across the bus. and from my point of view, this was the best seat on the bus because you could stand up on it and get a 180-degree view out the back window. but i would think at the time, i never get to sit here except when i'm traveling with libby. and i didn't understand why this was. i knew something was going on, but i didn't want really know what. i didn't really know what. >> thank you. be is that your -- your
grandfather was murdered in 19 73, as i recall, and the circumstances of that there's different opinions on it. so he lost his job as a waiter after this aired in 1966? >> that's correct, yes. he was actually working the night that it aired, and they had a big tv in the restaurant. and they were watching it, and people began saying we don't want him waitingen on us, and people -- waiting on us, and people began calling in saying we don't want him to wait on us again. and, you know, some people were angry because of, like i mentioned before, just him, you know, pulling the blanket all of this false narrative that, you know, that the blacks in the south were happy with, you know, just the lack of opportunity and the lack of equality that they were experiencing. however, there was more to it. you know, a lot of the whites in that town who frequented the restaurant that he worked at, a
lot of them believed or allowed themselves to believe that they had true friendship with him, that because he didn't say i don't like being called the n-word, that he didn't mind. you know, it hadn't really occurred to them that because they lived in a town where whites could lynch or beat up or rape blacks without being prosecuted, without being jailed, that blacks really were not in a position to speak up for themselves. so many of them let themselves believe that he was okay with that treatment. and so, you know, in the film he imitates them, which i think felt like being mocked, you know? he said this is how they talk to me. he took on their voice and showed how awful it was. but, i mean, he was a favorite waiter. he really was the favorite waiter. and 25 years is a long time. so, you know, people, again, really believed that they had true friendship with him, and some of it was was this sense of betrayal after that piece aired. >> and you indicated, and i can imagine why, that things really
changed in greenwood in 1955 with emmitt till. i imagine most people, but that had to have a profound effect on your family that was there as it did throughout the nation. >> uh-huh. >> is everybody familiar with emmitt till, the emmitt till murder which was right there? >> yeah. >> so a couple of your chapters back to back, i think, are particularly fascinating. one, a magical town and the other a not so magical town. >> right. >> and it's a real startling compare and contrast between the quite wonderful world of white greenwood and the not so wonderful world for african-americans in greenwood. it was a time and a place
that -- in the recent past, and yet so riveting. now, you've spent a lot of time in greenwood. how would you compare greenwood today to what it was like in 1955 or even -- >> yeah. i mean, i've spent a lot of time in greenwood to do, i did not spend a lot of time in greenwood in 1955. >> right. >> it's hard for me to make a true comparison. i definitely think that, obviously, it's changed tremendously. and, yes, the emmitt till murder was just 8 miles outside of greenwood. and, you know, i think one of the things that's interesting and one of the reasons why i wanted to write this book and, yes, there's a chapter called a magical town which is the story of white greenwood and then a not so magical town which is the story of black greenwood during those same years. i said to many people that if i was white living in, you know, the south during those years, i would want to live in greenwood. it was an amazing place. and if you wanted to raise children, it was so community-focused. the -- people would buy season
tickets for the high school football game, and they would sell out the day they went for sale is. i mean, it was just a great community. and i think that as a nation and really as scholars we've done ourselves a disservice. because what we now have as the narrative of the civil rights movement is that any of the whites who lived there during that time were horrible people, they were all going to lynch mobs, they were monsters. and that's just not the truth, you know? and i think that we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to learn what we can be doing today for other minority groups by painting all of the whites who were in the south in the '60s as monsters instead of saying, yes, of course some were, but not everyone was. some people were just busy living their lives and not paying attention. and it's easy to do that. it's actually harder to pay attention especially if some of these issues don't touch you personally. so what i would say is that what
i've found, and i tell my friends that today, some of my friends who aren'tembers of vulnerable groups during this season in our own history, i say people are going to ask you just like they asked the whites who live in greenwood back then, they ask them now, what were you doing back then. and stating what your opinion was, stating that you had sympathy for blacks often times does not really, it doesn't do much to engender, you know, for people to feel a sense of camaraderie with you. you know, it really does matter going to a march, making phone calls to help the people who are members of vulnerable populations today. but, you know, so it's -- greenwood is a place, it's a town that has had many, many stories written about it, lots of films have been, have gone there, have been filmed there. "the help" was filmed there the summer before i made my documentary. and so the people of greenwood are sort of tired of having their story told in ways that they don't feel are honest.
so one of the great joys for me was that, you know, many of the people of greenwood thought while this book was painful, they felt that it was fair. so -- >> you remind me of an obscure abolitionist during, just before and during the civil war, a virginian grew up in fredericksburg, daniel conway, and he was quite a radical abolitionist. and he grew up with slavery around him. but he had a hard time with the abolitionists of the north who did not understand that the southern isers were not -- southerners, white southerners were not monsters. and he said these are good people. they didn't understand that. it was just a world built on stereotypes and had a good bit to do with the civil war. so stereotypes aren't a very
good thing. >> i think you have a question over here. >> kathy, i have to ask, both your mother and -- we talked about this a little bit -- both your mother and your father, but your mother was an attorney in the 1950s. >> yes. >> that's -- how many attorney, female attorneys were there in the whole state of, in the whole state at that time? >> not many. and, in fact, at that time females could not serve on a jury in the state of alabama. so my mother was able to come into the courtroom because she was an attorney. she could not have sat on a jury. so if she hadn't been an attorney, the way she would have gotten into a courtroom would be as the victim at that point. so it was very unusual. and, in fact, we were talking about watching perry mason. i said when i was watching perry may soften as a kid -- mason as a kid, i didn't understand that della street was the secretary, i thought she was a lawyer. dan did point out, well, she was always pouring coffee. i said, yeah, but she didn't type. [laughter] i think you have a question over
there at the mic. a question. >> oh, i'm sorry. yes, sir. >> thank you. i've got two unrelated questions and, hopefully, i'll have time for each question, one for each author. first of all, you mentioned sort of a seemingly sheltered type arrangement in terms of your awareness of certain things, and i'm curious particularly since both your parents were attorneys what was your awareness of particularly some of the white figures in the civil rights movement who were really going against the grain and all of that? i'm thinking particularly about the durrs, for example, or judge frank johnson and what type of awareness did you have about these particular figures when you were growing up. >> well, the durrs, of course, they're the ones who bailed rosa parks out of jail. she was a seamstress. and i had almost no recollection of anything to do with the durrs
because that was the bus boycott, and i was 3 years old, you know? so i didn't know anything about that. i know the attitude of some white families in montgomery was, well, they went and got their cook out of jail. i do that every sunday. they didn't understand what the big deal was as far as that went. other figures, after i was grown then, of course, i found out more about the durrs and about other whites who had done -- like judge johnson who had done work for the civil rights movement. but at the time, no, it was just something that was sort of happening on a different plane, i guess you could say, and every once in a while you'd bump into it and realize something crazy was going on, but you really wouldn't know anything about it. >> and for ms. johnson, i'm curious to know after you, your family left greenwood in you said you were 2 years old, did you return much as a child? and what was your perception of the place, if you did or maybe if you didn't, as you were
coming of age in terms of how much you were aware about the heritage that you have later come to write about? >> we took a couple of trips back to greenwood when i was growing with up, but for the most part, i did not know anything about the town. and when we went -- i think i was 8 and once i was 11. and to me, it was just this hick town where there were no chain stores. it almost caused me some sort of anxiety because it was like being on some different planet. will we be able to get out. and getting there, turn up the tree stump. it was so far from the nearest airport. there just wasn't anything to do there. and it's funny because i didn't know anything about civil rights history. and i went to a dinner that a girlfriend was hosting because she was finishing her ph.d., and so she had graduation, and she had this private dinner, and she said talk to that guy over there, talk to dr. heath miller.
and i said i'm trying to do some research into my grandfather's life, and it's this town called greenwood, you've probably never heard of it. he looked at me like i was nuts, and he said, greenwood? and i said, yeah. he said go get the book, "i've got the light of freedom." and i did. that book, it's over 600 pages, it's maybe around 700, it is about the work that local people did to make the movement happen. so it's not the martin luther king jr. stories, it's about just the everyday folks, and it's almost completely centered on greenwood. and there's another book called "local people" that's very similar. and so what i learned is that greenwood in many ways was kind of like a ground zero for the civil rights movement because, of course, you had the emmitt till murder which most civil rights experts will say really was the spark for the civil rights movement that rosa parks represented, a story you could tell to school children. you can't really tell the emmitt till story to school children. but rosa parks, that happened in
december, and emmitt till was the august before. and emmitt till, you know, his murder was one of the first times when national news reporters were coming into the south and seeing what life was really like. and then for them to be found innocent, you know, and then a few months later to give an interview to a magazine saying, yes, we did it, you know, it was pretty horrific. and you realize that it's not hyperbole to say that black life in the south at that time was cheap life, that you could be murdered, you could be raped, you could be attacked, and no one would pay the price. and, you know, everyone sort of got to see that for themselves. >> well, he took my question for you. [laughter] but as i was listening to you, it made me think of another question. was there a difference, i guess would be a good word, in -- a feeling between when you would visit mississippi as opposed to when you were in san diego? was there a different sense of
belonging maybe? >> you know, i would say it definitely felt different. i did not feel like i belonged. in part because -- so in san diego, in california i was the only student of color in all of my classes until i went to middle school. but in greenwood, everyone was brown, and i had, you know, a cousin it seemed on every corner whereas in san diego i had no relatives, but i talk like this. so when i went to the south, you know, they would -- are we related? who are you? where are you from? because i just -- you know? and i didn't know any of the products that they liked to eat or to use. so it felt very different. but i also think that in a way it felt like family which because we didn't really have a sense of family outside of our house in california, that did feel foreign. you know? just to have these people who care about you because of who you're related to, and they love you, and of course they'll pick
you up, of course they'll take you here. that was very new to me as well. and lovely. >> and then for you i have a question about, about information. so in 2017 we have tons of information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year whereas in the '50s and '60s you really didn't have access to as much information as we do now. and so in thinking about that and in thinking about the cold war, the threat of nuclear war finish this is not something that i grew up with at all -- i can't imagine being a child in an elementary school and doing the duck and cover. we did tornado drills, and that was about as scary as it got. as opposed to now children have access to all this information of so many things that could potentially kill them. >> right. >> or all these reasons that you could, you know, die in school.
>> right. >> and so i kind of feel like that there's a little bit of a connection there where that maybe my generation has missed. and so when you did these, when you did these drills when you were in school and there was this urgency of protection, do you think that's similar to maybe some things that are happening now in schools? >> i think maybe students are more afraid now because, like you say, there's more information. back in 1958 the school passed out comic books to everybody in the first grade, and these were comic books about fallout. and it was what you were supposed to do, and these comic books showed nicely dressed children who were minding their own business when suddenly the air raid sirens went out. so these kids respond by squirting the hose on the roof. i'm just kind of assuming that water would dilute the fallout. and then they go into the shelter to listen to the short-wave radio which is
another thing my family didn't have. the comic book was pretty up front about what was going to happen to you if you didn't have a fallout shelter. and they would say is, remember, fallout can even come through glass. they went on to say, well, you could hide under the bed. but i gave up. about the time they said fallout can come through glass, my attitude was, okay, we've had it. so that was, you know, sort of i thought hiding under your desk is not going to do any good, and apparently that's what the teachers thought too. that's one thing when i was writing the book and i would run across these thingses, and i would think, well, you know, people did some really crazy stuff is. we were down at the beach and my brothers and i would be swimming, and there'd ban undertoe and sharks, and we just didn't care. it was before the movie "jaws" came out, and we realized they were catching sharks off the pier where we were swimming, but it just didn't occur to us that this was not a good idea. and nobody was going to say, you can't swim in there, we're paying sharks in there. we wouldn't have paid attention
if they had. i do think students today may be more frightened because they really are sort of being bombarded with the thought of this could happen to you, that could happen to you, the other thing could happen to you. and it's just hard for them to take in, you know, i think. so -- >> i piggyback on that? >> sure. >> so i have a 10-year-old and a 1-year-old, and i also have -- 13-year-old, and i also have lots ofen opinions. -- of opinions. i think there's a good opportunity to be sophisticated can consumers of news because a lot of adults are low information news consumers. people vote without, without facts, you know? they say i hate that obamacare, and then they say, oh, my goodness, do i have obamacare? you know? and so i think there's a great opportunity. i tell my kids that every time someone tells a story no matter who is telling the story, they have a reason to tell the story. and it doesn't make the storyteller bad, but every time we tell a story we have to choose a vantage point. and so make sure that you're aware of what is their agenda, what do they want to get from
the story. and we talk about the responsibility and the need for news organizations to pay the bills, to keep the lights on. that is one of the agendas. so are you more likely to watch this story about the cat that was saved by the fireman which my kids would watch but most people wouldn't, or the story about how any day now, you know, we're going to have microwaves watching everything that we do. and so, you know, it's -- with facebook, with all the social media, with the news, with kids that have cell phones, it's hard to keep them away from the information. but i try to help them understand that some of it is, unfortunately, entertainment. some of it's exaggerated. and if you want to know what to worry about, come talk to mom. and i also try to teach them how to know a news source is a reliable news source. if you see a snippet of a video and it looks really bad, you go find the original video and watch before and watch after and make your own opinion. at the end of the day, it's not
even necessarily -- i do that for people sometimes in politics who i already know that i dislike, but i will still want the real story so that my opinions and my convictions are based on as close as i can get to the truth and not based on the perspective of a pundit. >> i have a question, yvette. you now head up the booker wright project which creates and facilitates workshops on unconscious bias and privilege, and you address diversity without increasing division which is commendable. and in regard to that, we have burning issues now. it's all over the news in regard to confederate monuments. do you have an opinion on that? >> of course i do. [laughter] what i will say, first and
foremost, is i think that, i think that there are people in our nation who are beginning to feel very oppressed, people who at one point were considered member of dominant groups. and in many ways still are. and so it's complicated to talk about that, because many of them -- at least from what i can understand -- many of those individuals attach a sense of their heritage and a is sense of who they are -- a sense of who they are to those monuments. and the tearing down of those monuments might have been less painful in a different time, but we're living in a world of identity politics. and so the tearing down of those monuments for many people is attached to much bigger issues. so what i would say is i like the idea of having conversations in which we talk about what's the larger issue here and how can we address the larger issue that is creating the resistance
to tearing down the monuments. and then let's talk about what it feels like as a black mother to take your child to this park and to have to explain to them why it's there. so let's talk really calmly about what we both feel like we're losing. so i'm not really one to say, well, that perspective is silly, or those monuments were built during the civil rights movement, you know? i think all of those are details that really matter, and those details, you know, inform my opinion. but i also think that i'm interested in being able to make space for the other side because i think that when we force policy on people, we get often times horrible after shocks. >> and i'd like to the add something to that. >> sure. >> i think what's going on now, the polarization that we're seeing today reminds me very much of what went on mostly in the late '60s, early '70s when i think the government was sort of in the business of trying to say who's patriotic and who's not patriotic.
we had the civil rights demonstrations and then the anti-war demonstrations. and it's like if you take part in the anti-war demonstration, you're not patriotic. you had situations in which there were almost pitched battles between anti-war demonstrators and hard hats. for some reason construction workers would get out there and fight with the anti-war demonstrators. we had, you know, i think that everybody's seen the idea that some policemen would put tape over their badgeses and sort of weigh into the, you know, the anti-war demonstrators. and i think that we're almost seeing a resurgence of that in that you've got, like are, who's patriotic, who's not patriotic, you know? and it's having a bad effect on the country, i think. like you say, it masks larger issues. it's almost a distraction in a certain sense. >> yeah. and, well, i think that, you know, i am of the opinion that there are, you know, sort of what i like to say to my kids that everyone who tells a story
has an agenda. and i think that there are individuals who like to say that these things that we're seeing today nationwide, that they are about who's patriotic and who isn't. but that actually isn't really question. it's not really about patriotism. so for me, that is an effort to change the conversations, not actually address violence and ongoing lack of opportunity and really the legacy not just emotional and familial and, you know, social, but the legacy of the civil rights movement is also very financial. you know, i talk to friends sometimes about things that they're doing or investments they have, and i say where did you learn in this and they say, from my dad. where'd your dad learn it? well, from his dad. and then i think, well, my grandparents could not get loans because of their race. so there are lots of ways that these things are uncomfortable to talk about. it's easier to frame the argument as patriotism. so i think that that's not the
issue right now. but i also will say that just for clarity's sake, you know, i guess i think i want to say two things. one is that it can feel like a mess or it can feel like just a disruption when people choose to use their moment in the spotlight the make a statement about police violence, to make a statement about the equality for people who are trans, to make a statement about access to guns. but what i would ask is, you know, what's the more acceptable way to do that, you know? if you, if you're living a life where you are constantly being oppressed and you want people to notice, you can't really do that in a way that fits nicely and quietly into everyone's schedules. and for them to notice and remember and realize. so some of these things are uncomfortable, some of these things stop traffic, some of these things affect our schedules, but that's kind of
the point. it's a wake-up call. and if we don't want those inconveniences, then we should sort of on our own be looking for ways to the make the change in our communities, looking for ways to see, well, what are the groups in my community who are underserved? then that way your life isn't inconvenienced because you're always doing the work. and you asked about the booker wright project, and i love the work that we do there at the booker wright project. one of my favorite things to do is, you know, when i went to greenwood, mississippi, i had an expectation that i would meet these horrible white racists, you know, who would all be walking around with pitchforks and, you know, wearing tank tops and dirty clothes and not-brushed teeth9 and what not, but i met people who are some of my best friends and people who themselves have difficulty reconciling the parents that they love, you know, the grandparents who they adored with the fact that they also, that those grand parents stood against progress, stood against equality for blacks. and so being able to sort of see
that it's more complicated than -- and, obviously, everyone knows it's complicated, but being able to identify some of those complications has really informed my perspective on race relations. and so some of the lessons i learned while writing "the song and the silence" has transferred into this organization, and some of the work we're doing is with police officers. i work with cops on unconscious bias. and i have have officers walk in the room determined to prove to me that unconscious bias is made up by the liberal elites and that coastal whatever, you know? and they leave convinced that they have bias, and they have come up with things that they can do that day in their work to mitigate systemic bias. and i think that it's -- i just believe it's possible if we're kind and respectful to one another but also honest and willing to listen to get through some of these things. >> kathy, in 1998 you produced a
documentary remembering slavery. slavery's something a whole lot of people would like to forget, not remember. so given that background, how do you think it applies to some of these contemporary issues today, the legacy of slavery? >> remembering slavery was a two-part radio documentary series that i did with radio smithsonian, and it was based on voice-recorded interviews with former slaves that were made during the 1930s by the federal writers' project and the wpa and some of these were with people who were approaching 100 years old at that time. so that was a very interesting project to work on in that it expanded the topic, to me, because it realized when slavery ended, there were more than four million people living under slavery. and, of course, only a fraction of those people survived to tell their stories. but it was something that i think was a very valuable project for me because it looked
at the people as individuals. and they didn't spend what free time they had sitting around feeling oppressed. some of them were in very bad situations, but they wanted very badly to have lives, they wanted to have families, they wanted to have the things that some of us take for granted. and i think this is all by way of saying that i think if we can examine some of the history of how we got to where we are today, i think that would be a very valuable thing. i think right now, unfortunately, the atmosphere is such that i don't think that kind of examination is really being encouraged. i think, you know, it's -- as yvette said, everybody has an agenda, you know? right now people aren't really interested sometimes in delving into what brought us to where we are today. >> thank you. do we have any other questions? yes, ma'am.
>> i find this panel fascinating and enlightening. there was a time in our national narrative when we had people elected to high office, we had an african-american president nor not one -- for not one, but two terms. we had, prior to that, condoleezza rice, colin powell. it seemed that we'd gone beyond social integration into an acceptance of the contributions of the african-american community to the nation as a whole. with the election of the current administration, it looks like that's all going down the sewer. and what i wanted to ask about was seeing that video, it seems that there's a narrative that says we should have happy darkies. they should be grateful for this wonderful opportunity. too bad about the slavery but, you know, we brought them to america, and they got
christianity as a goal, prize. but it seems to me that with the current i think very peaceful protest of the taking of the knee in sporting events, suddenly we have unhappy darkies, and that's not acceptable. i would like to know what the panel thinks about the opportunities to address this. i do talk to some people who are within the formerly superior and now oppressed or self-oppressed demographic who are bitterly resent. that black folks have gotten uppity again. and it seems to me that the divisions are far greater, and i'd like to believe this is the chinese character for danger, also represents opportunity. i'd like to believe that perhaps we have the opportunity to build a more feeling society. one thing that i was taking into perspective is when we look at the history of african-american
slavery in this country, we look at andrew jackson and the whole socioeconomic makeup of the south really started when he was a veteran of the revolutionary war and then perceived that southern agriculture on ad broad scale would be -- on a broad scale would be much more economically profitable to a smaller number of people. and just as with the land clearances of scotland, suddenly the cherokees had to go. each though they were settled, printing presses in school, etc., their land holdings were too small to be profitable for a larger corporate entity and, thus, the ever-increasing numbers of slaves were required and brought to this country from africa. i recently read a book called "slaves in the family." are any of you on the panel familiar with it? >> i have heard of it, but it's been a while. >> it's fascinating. it's written by mr. ball, and it's the story of the african-american and white ball family of charleston, south carolina. and the breeding program, for lack of a better term, that
resulted in that family. it was fascinating to see that when he reached out to his black relatives, not only were the white relatives not happy about it, but often the black relatives weren't that happy to see him either. and then coming back to this whole idea of the happy darkie, the white descendants of that family used to put on minstrel shows as recently as the' 50s in black face about the happy singing times on the slave plantation. they forgot to mention the rape and the murder and the systematic oppression. it was just left off. i guess to sum up my question just opening it up to you guys again, where do we go from here? where do we go when african-american football players are forbidden by the president to respectfully kneel during the pledge of allegiance? it's not like they're setting the flag on fire. where do we go when our african-american politicians are not given an appropriate voice and where the president feels he can belittle a woman for her
hair? where do we go from there? because it seems to me the dialogue has gone right back to the pre-desegregated '50s or worse. but where do we stand, how do we bridge it other than reaching out within the community? i know that's a very large question, but i've observed this happen, and i'm at a loss. other than trying to build bridges in my own small way in my own community, i'm at a loss. i think the national conversation about race relations has degenerated to a point that i never thought i'd see in my lifetime. over to you guys. >> well, i mean, i love to hear that you are having those conversations in your community because what is a nation if not a collection of a opportunity of communities. and i think that first and fore to most people have to lead where they are, which i think is what we're seeing some of the football players is, is trying to lead where they are. we can't all quit our jobs and start think tanks or nonprofit groups, you know? but we need to find ways we can make a difference in our daily lives. i have to say that i would push
back on the notion that things were better before. i am hoping that this is sort of like the last, you know, sort of like if you've got a virus or a bacteria, it might make one final push before you finally get better. but i think there's a difference between having a conviction or a belief and then actually living it out. i think a lot of very decent people, very kind people really wanted equality for african-americans, but when they began to see that some of that equality would mean sharing in the pie, it felt uncomfortable. and things are, our nation's very different. you know, there was a time where if you were caucasian and you were male, you could put on a clean shirt, be sober, go to a job interview for factory job and probably get it. and then have a job that you could have your entire life, put your kids through college, your wife would never have to work and own a home. and there were people who saw their parents live that life, and that was the plan that they had for themselves and whether it's because there are more
women in the work force, more people of color, more immigrants, whether it's because we're still figure out issues with trade, that life for many people is gone. and i think it's easy for us to say, well, so what? you had power for so long. but it doesn't mean that it's not painful. if you are in a place of privilege and then you lose that privilege, that's going to be uncomfortable. and to just say, well, suck it up, you know -- [laughter] is not, you're not making it easy to have of the conversation. so my argument would be that, yes, we had condoleezza rice, republican. yes, we had colin paul, republican. and -- powell. republican, and i think we changed the rule book for barack obama. the first time i'd ever seen a government representative call a sitting president a liar, you know, was when barack obama -- i think it was the state of the union address or he was giving some sort of a talk. we really did change the rule book. we went to a terrible place. i remember sarah a palin during the campaign saying that he was palling around with terrorists.
you know? i mean, we really got the birth of, like, true fake news. but i also think we have to know who our enemies are, and i am a huge consumer of news. so if you're not a huge consumer of news, what i might say right now might sound like a conspiracy theory, but i promise in a year it's not. we really are finding this huge influence of the russian government. and so is i think it's important for us not -- we need to know how we got here so that we aren't angry with the wrong people. because, you know, my son who's 10 years old, when trump was campaigning and he was saying things about muslims, i did a whole lesson -- i home school with my kids about muslims, muslim-americans, their experience, and we began trying to show extra kindness to people when we saw them if they were wearing a hijab which sounds silly, but it's a small thing you can do. after trump was elected, my little 10-year-old was crying s and a few months later he said, mommy, i really to hope that the russians helped win that election, because otherwise
something's really wrong with our country. and i'm still kind of hoping that my 10-year-old is right, you know? and at first it sounded like this silly thing, but even in the last week or so we've heard this -- it's come out in the news that facebook, like, 10% of the accounts that the russians used, you know, were seen by millions of people. ask that's just the 10% that we know about. and so, and because of the work i do with unconscious bias, i understand that the unconscious mind does not have access to your values. so if you keep seeing a lie presented as truth over and over is and over and over and over again, you will begin to develop a gut feeling that just it feels like the truth to you. it feels like she's a liar, you just feel like you can't trust her, and you don't know why. and that is, that is your unconscious mind doing its job, saying, look, there is a ton of evidence here that you should not be voting for so and so, or you should not be listening to
so and so because of this evidence which -- and that's how stereotypes work. we know consciously that they're an exaggeration, but the unconscious mind does not have access to the ability to digest and consider. the unconscious mind collects data, and then it sends -- just the more data it has about a particular topic, that's how hard it's going to push you. so -- >> well, thank you. kathie, you've got 90 seconds -- [laughter] if you'd like, to add to that. >> yes. again, this reminds me of, you know, not first time in the our country that we've had fake news. i can remember when i was a kid seeing billboards, and it would have a picture of dr. martin luther king, and he'd be sitting there doing something, and the heading is martin luther king at communist training school, you know? we didn't have the internet, but we did have the interstate is and, you know, you could drive down there and see a picture of of just about anything. apparently, j. edgar hoover
tried to frame people for different things. this is not the first time we've had a fake narrative, you know, done by somebody, russia, the government or somebody else. it's just, you know, the technology is in everybody's home today. so that makes it -- >> yeah. i mean, it was much more regionalized. >> yeah. >> i've seen, yeah, the articles and newsletters about african-american men coming to rape your children, rape your daughters, and african-american painted to look like monkeys in the '30s and '40s, and so of course. but sort of in the current, you know, 24-hour news cycle there really has been in the past this sense of ethics in terms of journalism, and that a really has changed. yes, regionally where people could not get access to different information, you would sometimes see that which in a way we kind of are seeing with targeting individuals who are more likely to believe something that isn't true. but, yeah, i would say, yes, but it's a little bit different now because, i mean, even the you
sort of knew who was producing it, and -- but it's, to see it, to see it happening the way that it's happening now across all of these social media platforms on the 24-hour news, you know, across the nation not just in sort of small communities, it's finish we need to keep our eyes open, and we need to be smart consumers of news, in my opinion. >> great advice. thank you. thank you all for attending. [applause] we're going to be, we're going to be heading over to the signing booth. hope you're going to be there with multiple copies of these two books for your great christmas presents. so we'll see you over there. thank you.